Page 683 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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seeking that, we are going overseas for that because we don’t think we’re going to get that locally.”

Indeed, there are a number of local businesses who are not working in the ACT at the moment because they tell me that, with the tax regime, the planning regulations and the business regulations that this government has, it is just too hard. What he claims as the government’s win is really riding on organisations that have succeeded regardless of the ACT Labor government.

I think that is a bitter pill that Mr Barr needs to swallow in this chamber as the ACT’s most ineffectual business minister in the history of his party’s tenure in government. He certainly delivers the best reports, but I think the record shows that he has been our worst business minister ever. In fact, even the government’s highest profile initiative today, the light rail project, goes to the Deputy Chief Minister. We all know where the Chief Minister stands on this. The truth is that he will go down as the Rodney Dangerfield of this Assembly; he just cannot get any respect. He certainly did not get it from Ms Burch with the $50 poker machine limits.

The truth is that business confidence is at an all-time low. The recent Sensis index from December 2014 reported that the ACT is rated the least confident state amongst small and medium enterprises. Although small and medium enterprises’ attitudes towards the federal government decreased by 11 points, confidence in the ACT government’s policies plummeted by 42 points—a plus 32 to a minus 10.

It is no coincidence that in the recent half-yearly report the government reported a 137 per cent increase in compliance revenue from its new payroll tax and land tax changes. But more needs to be done in our economy. We certainly know that the territory’s budget deficit has blown out from $332.8 million to $770.5 million, and not all of it is due to Mr Fluffy. The territory’s deficit surpasses the deficit of all other jurisdictions except Western Australia. But on a per capita basis it is over four times that of Western Australia. The territory will not reach the government’s promised surplus now until 2017-18. It was originally planned to be achieved by 2015-16. Like with Wayne Swan, it just keeps drifting further and further out.

During the period between the 2014-15 ACT budget and the recent budget review, government expenses increased by approximately $467.8 million. During the period between the 2014-15 ACT budget and the budget review, the government’s net debt increased by approximately 29.5 per cent. During the period between the 2014-15 ACT budget and the recent budget review, government net liabilities also increased by approximately 12.5 per cent.

This government continues to slug residents and businesses with increased taxes, anticipating an increase of over $7 million in taxation revenue from the 2014-15 original budget estimates. We all know that rates are well on their way to tripling as every year taxpayers and businesses are slugged with increased rates to fund this government. The territory’s deficit for 2015-16 is approximately $215 million, which is $118 million worse than previously forecast. The truth is that this report is covering an important point: the government is spending too much and leaning ever more on businesses to pick up the tab.

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