Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 August 2017) . . Page.. 2654 ..
ACT government is committed to continuing to ensure that CIT remains a cornerstone of the higher education and training landscape in the ACT.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate—Part 1.5.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (11.11): I think it is highly likely that the Chief Minister will stand in this place today and gloat about the state of the economy and, in particular, the state of the territory’s finances. He will, of course, not tell the full story. We are doing well on some economic indicators, and I will be the first to talk up some of the great initiatives, some of the great enterprises, that we have here in our city. However, there are also some serious issues that must be addressed with regard to the territory’s finances.
Everything is not as fine as the Chief Minister will undoubtedly say. Unfortunately, there are issues that need to be addressed. Whilst there may be some improvements with the overall budget in terms of the headline net operating balance, the actual story is somewhat different, and it is very much a different story for the families of Canberra, who are seeing huge increases to rates, fees, fines, charges and other taxes.
Yesterday, ahead of this debate, the Chief Minister announced through the latest quarterly update that the fiscal position of the territory is improving, with an estimated deficit down $63 million on the expected outcome. I quote from the Chief Minister’s media release yesterday:
We have improved our fiscal position by investing in our community and diversifying our economy.
The ACT Government will continue to invest in the right infrastructure projects to deliver jobs and growth in the Territory, and continue building a better Canberra for everyone.
I would like to challenge the Chief Minister to tell the countless number of constituents who contact the Opposition on a regular basis about the increase in rates and the increase in cost of living. The story that he tells in the media release yesterday—the picture that he paints—is not reflected in the views of so many Canberrans who are doing it tough. The government not only drives up the cost of living—not only drives up the cost of housing, of rent, of rates, of land taxes—but also cuts concessions for those in our community who are most vulnerable.
The Chief Minister also did not mention in the media release yesterday that throughout his tenure as Chief Minister he has not delivered a budget surplus for the territory. Of course this is never mentioned. We only hear that he is a great economic reformer. We only hear that he will make the tough decisions. But of course there are very few tough decisions when you simply keep on going down the path that he is on. Meanwhile, across the border, the New South Wales government announced in June a $4.5 million surplus—but here in the ACT Andrew Barr continues to deliver deficits. In addition to that, in New South Wales they have no net debt, mainly on the back of—