Yesterday the ACT government handed down its 2014-15 budget, and, let me tell you, the Gallagher government could teach the Abbott government a thing or two about delivering budgets in tough times without breaking promises or hurting low- and middle-income families.
The ACT budget is a sensible mix of investment in health, education, infrastructure and community services, and carefully targeted revenue measures. It is a budget that will grow the ACT's economy, that will do its best to shield the ACT from the significant economic challenge presented by the Abbott government's cuts. As the ACT's Treasurer, Andrew Barr, said in his budget speech, all budgets are about choices. Where the Abbott government has chosen to break promises, to cut and to target the most vulnerable in our community, the ACT government has chosen to support fairness and opportunity, to invest in our city, and to believe in the brilliant possibilities of Canberra.
There is no question that the Abbott government's budget has called on Canberra to do the heavy lifting. The promise of cutting at least 16,500 Public Service jobs over the next four years means around 6,500 will be lost from right here in Canberra. That is around 2.9 per cent of the ACT's total work force—and I fear that that is just the start. Reduced spending from the Commonwealth will impact Canberra's wider labour market by influencing hiring decisions and delaying recruitment plans in the private sector. Canberra faces an enormous economic challenge, and I commend the Gallagher government for not adding to the pain caused by the Abbott government.