Page 2078 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015

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goes up—up $39 million in the forward estimates, up to $259 million a year by 2018. All across Canberra, from Banks to Bonner, everything is up. Taxes, charges, fees and stamp duty—it all goes up to pay for a light rail system that will be used by three per cent of the population.

At the same time, every important service is falling behind. This government cut 60 desperately needed beds from the new University of Canberra hospital. They cut nurses from special needs schools. They cut millions of dollars from police services.

Mr Corbell interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order! Mr Corbell.

MR HANSON: They have cut support for first home buyers. They are delivering half a road in Gungahlin—again. They have health staff morale at rock bottom, doctors on strike, and teachers who have voted no confidence in their minister.

On top of all this, all the other key indicators are going in the wrong direction. The deficit next year is forecast to be over $400 million, and that is following a nearly $600 million deficit this year. That is a billion dollar deficit over two years. Debt skyrockets to nearly $6 billion. The interest bill alone from 2015-16 through the outyears is over $880 million dollars. That is the equivalent of six hospitals the same size as the women’s and children’s hospital, just in interest.

That is the truth of the budget. It is not the spin that we heard on Tuesday, when Mr Barr in his speech did not mention rates. He did not mention rates once. I acknowledge the impact of Mr Fluffy on this budget, but the truth is that much of this debt and deficit is of this government’s own making.

Regardless of why we find ourselves in this position, the decision now is about what direction to take. What should be the priorities for this territory? With record debt, record deficit, failing services and massive increases to every other charge, now is not the time to be indulging in a billion-dollar tram. Nothing shows the difference in direction more extremely or more acutely than the misguided, unwanted and unnecessary project called capital metro.

On any measure this project does not stack up. Firstly, no matter what else this project is, it is not actually a transport solution. On the government’s own figures, less than three per cent of Canberrans will have easy access to this project. On the government’s own figures, only around 500 extra people will take this tram on each leg of the journey. On the government’s own figures, the travel time on the tram will be longer than the current express bus routes.

Secondly, this project is not an economic solution. Only by counting the most extraordinary and economically flimsy additions can Mr Barr and Mr Corbell make this project seem to be even remotely economically viable. Only by including the economic benefit of how much happier and more productive people will be, leaving out the fact that only three per cent of the population will be able to use it and their travel time will actually be longer, and only by including the wholesale

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