13 October 2020

Campaign Trail: Barr and Coe get fiscal, and the Chief told to stop in his tracks

| Dominic Giannini
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It’s become a Rocky campaign for Alistair Coe, who donned the gloved to promote his Lower Taxes, Better Services message. Photo: Supplied.

Today on The Campaign Trail, Barr and Coe get fiscal over spending, the Greens focus on social inclusion and the Chief Minister gets a cease-and-desist notice.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has attacked opposition leader Alistair Coe for being an “economic lightweight” after the Canberra Liberals cost the total spend of Labor and the Greens’ election promises at $2.5 billion.

The Liberals’ tally of Labor’s commitments came to $1.5 billion and $1 billion for the Greens. They then criticised the government for not being “open and transparent about how they will pay for it”.

But Mr Barr said the actual new spend of the commitments was less than half the Liberals’ estimate.

“The net new spend on the recurrent side – so that is wages, salaries, programs that occur every year – is around $130 million over the forward estimates period. That is on top of what was announced in the August economic update,” Mr Barr said.

“Capital spend over this fiscal year, and the remaining three in the forward estimates, is $318 million and then there is a further $100 million in the fiscal year 2024-25 which is outside the current forward estimates period but inside the next parliamentary term.

“In total, there’s about $420 million in infrastructure and around $130 million in new recurrent expenditure. We have been very clear in this campaign where we are sourcing revenue from. Much of our announcements come from allocations and provisions already made.”

READ ALSO Liberals’ election promises priced at $1.1 billion over four years

Mr Coe said the ACT was already poised to borrow billions over the next four years, money which will be used to pay for his commitments. He promised that the Liberals would not borrow an extra cent beyond what was already outlined in the current budget. The Liberals have costed their election promises at around $1.1 billion.

Mr Barr cast doubt on the Liberals’ fiscal strategy.

“We are not suggesting in this campaign that you can slash government revenues, improve government services, not borrow any more money and still end up in a better fiscal and economic position,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

The Liberals have consistently said more revenue would be raised by enticing more people to move to Canberra by making the city more affordable, therefore growing the economic pie.

Mr Barr has made the point that land is the ACT is not the same as land in NSW, and direct comparisons do not take account of other factors when deciding where to live.

“The old adage in real estate is ‘location, location, location’ and so the further you are away from major employment centres and major transport corridors and major cities, the cheaper land is,” Mr Barr said.

Emma Davidson

ACT Greens’ candidate Emma Davidson says additional support is needed for the ACT’s most vulnerable people. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Greens focus on social inclusion

Five days out from the election and the Greens have unveiled a social inclusion package, promising to fully fund the ACT Carers Strategy and provide more flexible transport options for people with limited mobility.

Under the package, the Greens will also develop a therapeutic place for young people leaving the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, provide extended care for 18 to 21-year-olds in the care and protection system, and ensure greater transparency of the system as well.

The Greens have estimated the policy will cost $6.7 million over four years.

The care and protection system provides services for children and young people in the ACT, including family support programs, early intervention programs and out-of-home care.

An ACT Assembly Committee inquiry this year found that the Territory’s child protection laws have cultivated a culture of secrecy against the best interests of the child.

A number of systemic issues, including a power imbalance families encountered within the child protection agency and an “unconscious bias” of Children and Young Person Services staff, were also uncovered.

“A fair recovery means that people with disability, older people, people looking for work or on low incomes, and people who need additional support and care are supported by our community,” ACT Greens community services spokesperson Emma Davidson said.

“The investments we make now in our social capital will provide savings and security long after temporary tax-cuts run out.”

Damage to corflutes. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The Belco Party’s complained, but every party is a victim of corflute vandalism. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Belco Party lashes out at corflute vandals

The Belco Party has hit out against the “constant and willful damage” done to their advertising material throughout the campaign.

While corflute vandalism is nothing new during an election – with lewd images being spray-painted on Giulia Jones and Jeremy Hanson signs in Deakin – Belco Party candidate Alan Tutt said the vandalism is not in the spirit of how elections should be run.

“In some cases, roadside signs are ploughed down by cars driving illegally off-road. This is not only extremely dangerous but very disappointing,” he said.

“Where we can identify the culprits, we are reporting them to the police.

“For small new parties and for independents, there is limited opportunity for us to get our voice out to the electorate. We have five candidates and a small number of volunteers. We all campaign for no pay.

“We then see our signs and posters defaced and destroyed – it is disheartening.”

Barr issued with cease and desist over light rail policy

The Australian Climate Change Justice Party has issued a mock cease and desist letter to Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens leader Shane Rattenbury over their “unlawful commissioning of Stage 2 of the ACT Tram”.

The party has threatened to take legal action against the government and sue for monetary damages for “breach[ing] of the ACT Cabinet Handbook” and “pilfering the public purse”.

The letter requested that Mr Barr makes himself “available on Tuesday the 13th of October 2020 at 12.00 pm at the front doors of the ACT Legislative Assembly to receive this notice and to answer any questions related to your actions which will inform our decisions on this matter”.

Ironically for the Australian Climate Change Justice Party, at around 12:00 pm, Mr Barr was at a photo op where solar panels were being installed.

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Alix Merope O'Hara9:41 am 15 Oct 20

Okay. Speaking on behalf of the Australian Climate Change Justice Party and the points concerning us, it’s not a “mock” Cease And Desist letter:
While you open the article discussing 1bn costings of Labor’s and Greens promises;
The current government pushed through $2 Billion in taxpayer funds to pay interstate contractors for the tram extension, pre-election, but after the pandemic and recession hit. And when asked, they dodge questions about it. It’s grossly dishonest and irresponsible.
Nobody thinks the tram is a good idea anymore: it may be important infrastructure but it can wait.

Speaking to the “irony” of Barr’s solar photo op attendance, I’ve seen Labor’s policy on solar, and the tech, infrastructure and philosophy regarding community-owned benefits are now a decade out of date. Coe’s glove promises reduced taxes: another debt, while our solar policy generates $2000 individual and community wealth p/a. They all do, because they lack better ideas. Meanwhile the Greens only query regarding our community owned solar policy is whether it’s means tested, and their “Just Transition Fund” is not only insufficient and lacks planning, but still places responsibility on the individual to take leadership, and especially on those with the means to do so, who appear to be locked out of the policy entirely, along with government housing, the other 10%.

Do they intend to Lead us, as a collective, into an environmentally, or economically sustainable future or not?
Even their volunteers agree that we don’t have leaders in government.
Budget-, rather than innovation- oriented decision making does that.
It’s been so long that Democracy apparently doesn’t even expect it of our representatives.
It’s time for a change.

“The current government pushed through $2 Billion in taxpayer funds to pay interstate contractors for the tram extension, pre-election, but after the pandemic and recession hit.“

What nonsense. No money has been pushed through of billions given to interstate companies to build stage 2.

And even if it had of what is the rant about them being interstate? Do you think we have Canberra based construction companies in the ACT that could deliver such a specialised piece of engineering infrastructure?

Noel Bartone8:59 pm 13 Oct 20

Yes the ACT Labor Greens Government have done a great job with health the last 8 years, I spent 5 hours in emergency, beds were in corridors full of sick people just two weeks ago. The staff are fantastic.

I assume your issue was addressed? In which case the system has worked.

The ‘lower taxes’ ink is already falling apart and ‘better services’ is blurring into the background.

Should the libs win, i’m sure this photo will come to represent Coeconomics.

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