Page 147 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015
in terms of the set of numbers. That has been discussed today and has been detailed by Mr Barr particularly in his amendment. It is a very eye-watering number in some regards. But is a number that we must take on. We must provide a lasting solution to this problem to deal with it once and for all and to give certainty to our community on this issue.
There is no doubt that there have been a number of other pressures facing the ACT budget, including movements in GST payments and the like, that continue to have perhaps a disproportionate impact in an economy the size of the ACT’s, compared to, say, New South Wales or Victoria, where such movements perhaps are more readily absorbed in the context of a larger economy.
I think these are the challenges that face the ACT. I think that it is an important observation that Minister Barr has made in paragraph (g). The ACT continues to maintain its AAA credit rating. This has been reaffirmed, as he notes in his comments. I think that that is a very positive thing in light of the approach the ACT government has taken to dealing with our current economic circumstances.
The significant investment that is being made in the capital is accounted for in those recent assessments. Things like capital metro and the upgrades of the public health system are being taken into account in those analyses. Yet the ACT retains its stable credit rating. I think that reflects the fact that these projects are affordable, which is certainly something that has been taken into account in weighing up what we can and cannot do in terms of infrastructure investment. For me, that is a very positive sign. The fact that the credit rating remains stable I think shows that the decisions we are taking on issues like capital metro, which we have heard much criticism of from those on the opposite side, about whether they can be afforded or not, reflect that they are affordable.
There are various other points in Mr Smyth’s motion and Mr Barr’s amendment that have already had an airing today. I will be supporting Mr Barr’s amendment. I think it reflects the thinking that is going on in the budget discussion process, which is that we do need to find the right balance between providing the services that this community expects, that this community needs, and continuing to support the ACT economy at a time when there are ill headwinds, as perhaps would be the way to put it.
We need to be mindful of the fact that we cannot continue on that path and we do need to work our way back to surplus. That is certainly the work that has been done in budget planning. I am happy to continue to support that approach.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.10): I guess Mr Barr’s speech can be characterised as same old, same old. He does not like criticism. He does not like being hoist on his own economic petard. But the facts are the facts. They are there and it is quite clear that this Treasurer, this Chief Minister, can renew the rhetoric but cannot renew the economy. And that is the problem for this city.
We acknowledged straight up that Mr Fluffy was a factor, and I said that. But if you take the Mr Fluffy expenditures out, the budget deteriorates by another $53 million according to the half-yearly update. Again, this just simply shows that this minister