ACT QT: budgets, buses, guttersniping

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Treasurer Katy Gallagher The Katy Gallagher vs Liberal boys battle resumed today over the Canberra Hospital bullying review and the order to freeze non-essential hiring of public servants off the back of the $85 million GST revenue loss.

While wearing her ACT Treasurer hat Gallagher insisted the Government were on track for savings in 2009-10, she told the Opposition “savings in Government are difficult to achieve”. Gallagher refused to be drawn on agency submissions for the Territory Budget and said the Canberra Liberals would have to wait till May 4 to see.

Greens MLAs Amanda Bresnan and Caroline Le Couteur pushed Chief Minister Jon Stanhope on the auctioning of land in Molonglo in a brief interlude – before the Opposition continued to grill Gallagher on a statistic showing a decline in small and medium business confidence in the Government.

Brendan Smyth asked Gallagher: “Why is business so positive about the economy, but so negative about your Budget?”

Gallagher refuted the Opposition’s claims arguing that the feedback she had from small and medium businesses was positive, however she conceded that with the GFC, deficits and the savings strategy it wouldn’t be surprising if they were not delighted with the ACT Government.

“But we are doing what we can to support our economy,” Gallagher said, saying Mr Smyth “only loves news when it’s bad news”.

Speaker Shane Rattenbury was again forced to call for order when the Liberal boys called up a heckling storm, but the real blue today was between Education Minister Andrew Barr and Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne.

Somewhere Stanhope’s delightful oration on the subject of the new eco-friendly buses presented yesterday and their place in the Sustainable Transport Action Plan to be delivered in May and Barr’s waxing lyrical over the ACT’s rollout of the Education Revolution a “slurr” was made on Liberal Party staff.

Dunne wasn’t taking this sitting down and, calling Barr a “guttersnipe”, demanded an apology.

He withdrew the comment to prevent a motion.

Of note in today’s QT was the statements made by Andrew Barr and Simon Corbell about the electrocution of an insulation worker on March 8, which will no doubt add fuel to the fire on this issue – but one can’t help but wonder where that will go given yesterday’s failed censure motion.

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