On 31 May the member for North Sydney made a joke on morning television. He said, 'There's a golden rule for real estate in Canberra: you buy Liberal and you sell Labor.' He then proceeded to laugh wholeheartedly. I do not think the coalition's plans to devastate the economy of Canberra are a joke.
In 1996 the newly elected Howard government slashed 30,000 public service jobs, 15,000 of which were based in Canberra and one of which was mine. The flow-on effects for Canberra's housing market were devastating. Between March 1995 and March 1998 the median house price in Australian capital cities grew by $22,950, or 17 per cent, and the median across the whole of Australia by 15 per cent. However, in Canberra the median house price fell by four per cent. As for the price index for established homes, over the same period Canberra's index fell by 3.7 points in comparison to an increase of 11 points in the weighted average of Australian capital cities. Effectively $25,000 was slashed from the average Canberra house price.
And it was not just house prices that were affected. Personal and business bankruptcies in Canberra increased, and our unemployment rate rose. The coalition is promising the same pain and suffering for Canberra, should they be elected in September, by slashing 20,000 public service jobs. I do not think this is a laughing matter. The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour: remember 1996, Canberra.