Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 December 2016) . . Page.. 112 ..
fair average of the quantity of notes, then Mr Coe’s notes could not be described as above average. They are, in fact, below average, so I do not support removing those notes.
However, I am happy to agree to Mr Barr’s amendment which changes basically the timing for reporting back for the government as to what will be happening with the budget. There is going to be a 2016-17 budget review. That has been scheduled already, and I do not think there is a big problem with waiting until that time to hear in more precise detail the answers to Mr Coe’s questions.
Looking more broadly at Mr Coe’s motion and Mr Barr’s response to it, the Greens are largely more sympathetic, understandably, with the government’s views than Mr Coe’s views. Clearly it is important that we have over the economic cycle a balanced budget. I do not think anybody in this room would suggest that over a period of time this was not a priority. However, the other thing that is very clear is that, certainly in the short term, it is not the only economic priority.
Mr Coe may or may not be aware, but around the country many types of council have been doing surveys of their residents to ask them what would they like to do: would they like to pay more rates and have better services or would they like to pay less in rates and have fewer services? The answers in general have been fairly clear: people are happy to pay for good government services.
That possibly could be regarded as the outcome of the recent ACT election. It is not a Liberal government; it is a Green-Labor government. We both had an approach of saying there are government services which we think are important, light rail being front and centre of the election campaign. We both said that these are things we think are important. We both said we believe—and clearly the population of the ACT agreed with us—that investing in good public transport and better health and education systems were worthwhile investments. The ACT population absolutely thought they were worth it, and that is why they voted for the government they voted for.
While I agree with Mr Coe that what he is talking about is very important and should not be neglected—and that is why my amendment will put those notes back in—I cannot agree with the general premise that budget surplus is the most important economic issue for the government. The most important economic issue for the government is creating a Canberra that in the short, long and medium term works for the people of Canberra. That will include financial responsibility, but it also includes, as Mr Barr said, supporting employment and creating the services and infrastructure the people of Canberra have made it very clear they want their government to provide.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (10.37): The government will not be supporting Ms Le Couteur’s amendment. Whilst Ms Le Couteur has stated that, as far as she believes, the figures contained within Mr Coe’s motion are in fact accurate, I am not sure that that necessarily reflects any context in relation to what has occurred in that period. Also, statements around the operating balance in particular fiscal years do not take into account long-term gains from our superannuation