Page 109 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 14 December 2016
observations on that. I noted with a certain amount of amusement the comments from the federal finance minister, Mathias Cormann, that he would not be setting any “artificial deadlines” to return the commonwealth budget to surplus. Similarly, given the impact of the commonwealth budget, as Mr Coe outlined in his speech on the territory budget, the trajectory of both budgets are intertwined.
I can make this observation: on the current trajectories, the ACT budget returns to balance and surplus before the commonwealth budget does, but the ACT is susceptible—very susceptible—to decisions that the commonwealth government takes. So if the commonwealth seek to sharply contract their role in the Australian economy, if that is their response to the risk to the national credit rating that is writ large at this point in time, we will see next Monday on the 19th with their mid-year update whether there will be any further contraction from the commonwealth, but that is the risk this economy faces.
Mr Coe: What contraction has happened here?
MR BARR: What contraction has happened here, the Leader of the Opposition interjects, demonstrating a breathtaking lack of understanding of the impact of the thousands of jobs that were lost.
Mr Coe: Yes, what’s the impact been?
MR BARR: We lost two per cent of our workforce thanks to decisions made—
Mr Coe: No, what’s the economic impact been?
MR BARR: We had a period of quite subdued, below-trend economic growth as a result of decisions taken in the 2014 commonwealth budget from which we are now emerging, and we are growing faster than the rest of the country as a result of the policy settings put in place by this government to invest in infrastructure and to support economic growth. Yes, we have taken a deliberate policy strategy to use the territory budget over this period to support our economy, to keep people in work and to keep our economy growing. We have utilised our infrastructure program and we have utilised our recurrent budget to keep people in work, to keep a high level of community services, and to ensure that we kept our economy out of recession. We succeeded, and we will be talking more about that in the next motion this morning.
But what Mr Coe has outlined, when he then moved on to other areas beyond the budget, is an agenda from the Liberal Party to cut education spending because he does not believe it is worth investing in our children. He believes the territory’s education system is underperforming and it is his belief that we spend too much on education. That is what he said in his remarks earlier. That he is just in that instance parroting the federal education minister is disappointing.
You want further examples of decisions from the commonwealth government that negatively impact on the ACT? How about Barnaby Joyce’s decision to relocate the APVMA to his electorate in Armidale? I think less than 10 per cent of the staff are actually going to move, and that decision failed the business case test. It is going to