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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Barreconomics: how not to govern competently

The ACT 24/25 budget appears to be a case of massive hubris, detachment from the real world, continuing reliance on past policy focuses and an innate inability to understand and respond to changing circumstances, says letter writer RON EDGECOMBE, of Evatt.

Andrew Barr’s 2024/25 ACT budget may well prove to be a salutary lesson for political science students on competence in government.

Write to editor@citynews.com.au

From his throwaway line exhorting Canberrans to shout themselves a little treat in Canberra (courtesy of the federal government’s stage three tax cuts) to his budget speech line emphasising a focus on cost of living measures, to Shane Rattenbury’s comment criticising the lack of ACT government funding for social/community housing, there is no common sense consistency in his government’s policy framework.

Consider the following:

In government, I remember working closely with Business ACT executives to foster the development of new businesses in Canberra, including in particular multinationals such as Microsoft, Fujitsu and the like. These initiatives were designed to sustainably grow the ACT’s revenue base given that the ACT has no natural resources and has to rely on the public and tertiary sectors as its major revenue bases. 

In his latest budget, Barr is now imposing a further tax on multinationals and claiming that no one in the ACT would not support a further impost on this sector. Sheer stupidity and ignorance, I say.

Shane Rattenbury’s comments on the lack of funding for social and community housing is also hypocritical. He was, from memory, seeking around an extra $250m for this area. How much additional housing could have been provided for instance if light rail stage 2A (Civic to the lake) had not been funded. 

And now, he is proposing to acquire the Canberra racecourse via compulsory acquisition of land (which has invariably been shown to increase the acquisition cost to taxpayers).

The additional consumer revenue imposts in the ACT 24/25 budget ranging from the 3.75 per cent notional residential rates (but in effect 5 to 7 per cent for many outer-ring and new-development suburbs), the increases in driver licences, fire and emergency services levy, domestic violence contributions etcetera, and the additional imposts on small investors and small-to-medium local businesses will no doubt swallow up any additional incomes derived from the Federal stage 3 tax cuts.

That Andrew Barr has seen fit to impose these significant additional costs when the overall state of the Australian economy is anaemic at best (and Canberra is really no different to other jurisdictions in this regard) is questionable political judgement at the least.

With respect to what a number of press observers have been claiming, the ACT 24/25 budget appears to be more a case of massive hubris, detachment from the real world, continuing reliance on past policy focuses and an innate inability to understand and respond to changing circumstances.

While the ultimate judgement on this budget will be handed down by the ACT electorate in October, it is also true to say that the increasing economic impact of Barr’s cumulative budgets and in particular the growing budgetary deficit (now close to $1 billion) and debt servicing requirements will leave the ACT in a much more parlous situation than when Barr took over as chief minister.

Ron Edgecombe, Evatt

Dr David Denham… a lovely man who really cared about his community.

Farewell to a tireless community champion

It was with sadness that I heard of the recent passing of community leader Dr David Denham.

David devoted many years of his life advocating on behalf of the community. In my former role as chair of the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC), I knew him as the president of the Griffith and Narrabundah Community Association, and as a very active colleague on the ISCCC committee.

He was a lovely man, with great intelligence and sense of humour, who really cared about his community. He worked tirelessly as a volunteer to stand up for local residents on a range of planning and development, environmental and other issues.

He will be sorely missed by his friends, colleagues and community. Vale David.

Marea Fatseas, Yarralumla

Let’s see the PM’s report on Higgins affair

Re the news story about Scott Morrison being called to possibly give evidence in the upcoming Linda Reynolds/Brittany Higgins defamation case.

Surely in the interests of justice, the report of the inquiry commissioned by the former prime minister into what, who and when did his ministers and their staff know about the events that occurred in Senator Reynold’s ministerial office in relation to the visit by Bruce Lehrmann and Higgins should be made public. 

The inquiry was also asked to examine the media reports at the time, which suggested that a staffer in the prime minister’s office provided background briefing to selected media about Brittany Higgins.

What do they have to hide?

Rob Elder, Flynn

Barr-Rattenbury fail on development analysis 

The discussion about the best future use of the Canberra racecourse raises wider issues about our city’s future development.

Development proposals at the racecourse should consider recreational needs, infrastructure costs including flood mitigation, lease variation charges, possible alternative sites, housing demand and affordability.

Such evaluation should take place within the context of a residential settlement strategy assessing the merits of potential sites for infill, redevelopment and greenfield development. 

The analysis should include the long term use of the Kowen pine forest, an area in close proximity to Canberra and of low environmental and economic value.

Such analysis is fundamental to the development of a more liveable and sustainable city.The failure of the Barr-Rattenbury government to undertake such analysis suggests it is past its use by date.

Mike Quirk, Garran

Mahatma has a message for Canberra voters

Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have said that “if there is an idiot in power, it means those who elected him are well represented”. 

Perhaps the 63-64 per cent of Canberrans who habitually return the Barr government to power, but complain regularly about the appalling waste of public funds, the outrageous deficit and public debt and about the atrocious maintenance of our city, might take note of the Mahatma’s statement.

Max Flint, Erindale

Tram south should follow Griffin’s lake crossing

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One Response to Barreconomics: how not to govern competently

Occassionally Intrested says: 5 July 2024 at 4:32 pm

Max – The 2020 election saw Labor get 37.8% of the vote and in-turn 40% of the seats (101,693 votes = 10 seats).
Liberal got 33.8% of the vote and 36% of the seats (90,955 votes = 9 seats) and the Greens had 13.5% of the votes and got 24% of the seats (36,307 votes = 6 seats).
So the numbers tell us that just under 52% of the ACT population voted for the current Green/Labor Gov. – which is not the “63-64 per cent of Canberrans…” as claimed.
What you perhaps meant to convey is that the Hare-Clark system (which in my opinion is a rort), resulted in 64% of the actual seats (ultimately 16 of 25) being claimed by Green/Labor. The amount of seats claimed by the Greens is strikingly disproportionate to the votes (hence my absolute disgust in the H.C. system of quotas and transfer votes).
For all the ‘hard evidence’ people please refer to: https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/act/2020/results/party-totals

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