Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 September 2017) . . Page.. 3589 ..
government’s management of the policies, assets and infrastructure that we all depend on. The list of failures across government is long: Bimberi and youth protection; the bush healing farm and just about every other area of Indigenous policy; the expansion of bikie gangs; the urban planning issues; confusion over public transport; dog attacks and many others.
The motion today arises from S&P’s recent reaffirmation of the territory’s AAA credit rating, at a cost of approximately $150,000 for this rating. The rating is an assessment of the government’s capacity to meet its financial commitments. Frankly, this is not as big a claim as those opposite would like to pretend it is. The ACT has one of the highest average incomes of any state or territory in the country. In fact, the ACT’s average incomes would probably rival those of just about every other jurisdiction in the world. As has already been discussed, large expenditure by the commonwealth is a major factor in this. So if the ACT government cannot be a leader and achieve a relatively good credit risk then no government can. When you consider the amount of commonwealth expenditure and the average incomes we have in the ACT, simply getting a AAA credit rating—which is the same as the commonwealth’s—I do not think is as big an achievement as those opposite would like to tell us.
What the credit rating tells us is simply the ability of this government to meet its obligations. The credit rating does not tell us about the real test of good government; it does not tell us about whether citizens are actually getting value for money out of the rates, taxes, fees and charges that they pay. The credit rating does not tell us whether the ACT’s citizens are receiving high quality public services as a result of the ever-increasing taxes, fees and charges that we all pay.
The Canberra Liberals believe that the credit rating being a AAA is a good thing; there is no doubt about that. We also believe many of the economic indicators are worth celebrating, but there are many other things that are real challenges for the ACT, and we call on the government to make sure that they are addressing the real issues of concern for the people of Canberra, such as the delivery of essential services.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (10.29): I basically support Mr Steel’s motion. The Greens, of course, support a sustainable society, which is more than economics; it means it needs to be environmentally sustainable, socially sustainable and economically and financially sustainable, which is where the last point of Mr Steel’s motion is going. I will just talk about some of the broader issues: firstly, financial sustainability. The credit rating by itself and the surplus by itself are not the point. As Mr Coe pointed out, what is really important is what we do with the money, rather than the credit rating.
The Greens, of course, support the return to balanced budgets because over the long run there actually is no choice. We have to have a balanced budget both financially and, as I will point out in a minute, environmentally. We are pleased the ACT is currently financially sustainable because it means we can invest in things where there are gaps. We have been talking about affordable housing at some length and there are lots of other places where there are gaps—footpath maintenance and trees come to