Page 145 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

I turn to some of the public art put in by your mate Jon Stanhope. How many tens of millions of dollars was spent on that? There is the jail and so on. Certainly on the expenditure side we have given you some guidance. Tens of millions of dollars worth of savings could be made right now. You could do it at the next budget. We would welcome it.

In terms of the revenue side, what you are doing as a government, led by the Treasurer and Chief Minister, is driving business out of this town. It is driving prosperity out of this town with things like variation 306, which is making it so difficult for people to do renovations, to do building. It is squeezing the small businessman out of this town. Things like the lease variation charge are a tax on development. What we have seen is very little revenue coming in from that tax.

But I know, having spoken to many developers—I am not just talking about the big end of town; I am talking about the little guys out there—that they are going interstate. They are going to Queanbeyan; they are going to the Gold Coast; they are going to Victoria; they are going elsewhere. Prosperity is leaving this town. All the time what we see is that the revenue is going to shrink. The income is going to shrink. What we see is that the approach from Andrew Barr is to tax more.

Not only is the debt going up and not only is the deficit going up but the taxation is going up. Talk to any Canberra household about their rates. Talk to business about their rates. Although we have the denial that there would be these rate increases that we foretold—it was not hard: we got it from the Quinlan tax review; it is not like we made this stuff up—we know from the Treasurer’s own budget that rates are going up at 10 per cent a year.

What does this mean for businesses in this town? I was speaking to a business owner in Manuka who owns property there. He simply cannot afford the rates. It is tough for small business out there. It is even tougher because of the desperate need to pay for things like light rail, as this Treasurer has done in an attempt to try and balance his books to achieve the ever-elusive surpluses.

The scale of the problem is significant. From time to time governments will run deficits. There is an appropriate time to run deficits. But the problem is that if you take the Andrew Barr approach—the Mr Barr approach, Madam Speaker—which is to always run deficits, then when things do come along, and they will come along, they are going to impact on your budget. We have faced Mr Fluffy, but before this town has faced upturns and downturns in the economic cycle. It has faced natural disasters. There will always be something. That is why, if you have a strong budget, if you have a strong economy, when these things come along the impact of them is lesser.

You can run a small deficit to get through those difficult times. But if your strategy is always to run a deficit, you are going to run into trouble. The trouble that this government has run into is Mr Fluffy on top of massive deficit, meaning that we now have record debt, record deficit. As Mr Smyth pointed out, we are not here to say we support strong business for the sake of business. We are not saying that we should have a strong economy just for the sake of making the books look good. It is about the

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video