Liberals don’t trust Andrew Barr
Elizabeth Leeleader of the Canberra Liberals and shadow treasurer, will table a motion of no confidence in the Chief Minister today Andrew Barre, which it says can no longer guarantee supply. The motion will be heard in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, August 15.
Ms Lee’s no-confidence motion comes after Greens leader Shane Rattenbury pledged to vote on the floor of the Assembly against a spending item in yesterday’s ACT budget: a $41 million taxpayer grant to the horse racing industry.
Under a Memorandum of Understandingthe ACT Government will pay Canberra Racing Club and Canberra Harness Racing Club $41,144,000 over the next four years to 2026-27.
“The budget is meant to reflect what we value as a community and the future we want to build together,” Rattenbury said. “I’m sure the community would prefer that $41 million to go to public housing and homelessness, or mental health support, or climate change adaptation, or public transportation, or any measure of ‘other stuff.
“We must constantly strive to evolve and improve government policies, and reflect them in the ACT budget, and we simply cannot sustain this allocation of much needed funds.”
Ms Lee pointed out that Mr Rattenbury had helped shape the budget, as leader of the Greens and member of the Cabinet and member of the Expenditure Review Committee.
“The fact that he is now indicating that he does not fully support the budget is in clear breach of Cabinet solidarity, of his role as a minister and of the content of the Labour-Green Parliamentary Agreement and Government.
“The fact is that the chief minister has lost control of his cabinet and his government; the Labour-Green government is deeply divided.
“For government ministers to indicate that they will not support the government budget is untenable, it is a chaotic mess.
“The opposition have lost faith in the chief minister’s ability to secure supplies and form a stable coalition government, and now it looks like the Greens have too,” Ms Lee concluded.
Mr Rattenbury said the ACT Greens had full confidence in the Chief Minister and would not support the vote of no confidence.
“It’s a good budget for the Territory,” Mr Rattenbury said. “While the ACT Greens and the Labor Party have a different stance on the collapse of the horse racing industry, this is one piece of a big budget that benefits the Canberra community. We will seek simply to amend the budget on the floor of the assembly when the appropriate bill is debated later this year in order to vote on this single post.
“It is an example of how two parties can work together in a mature and constructive way on many initiatives and issues, and have a difference of position on certain issues.”
Liberals: “Disappointing” budget
The budget itself, Ms Lee said, was full of twists and turns and failed to address a number of serious issues plaguing Canberrans after 21 years of Labour-Green government.
“It’s a disappointing budget; a budget that is business as usual for a tired and complacent government that has long ceased to govern in the best interests of Canberrans.
Earlier this week, she called for an independent budget audit of the territory’s finances.
With a net debt of $6.524 billion in 2022-23 and set to rise to $9.882 billion by 2025-26, Ms Lee said Canberrans have every right to ask where that money went.
“Every budget this treasurer has delivered is the same playbook; promise an improvement in the operating budget in future years that does not materialize, and start again with a new promise the following year,” Ms. Lee said.
Mr Barr rejected Ms Lee’s proposal, saying the Liberals wanted to cut public spending, stop building infrastructure and lay off civil servants. Without debt, ACT would not be able to finance its infrastructure projects.
“With our healthcare system at breaking point, our education system failing, basic municipal services not up to snuff and the ACT in a housing crisis, this Labour-Green government is continually failing to deliver…
“It is amazing that this government continues to expand hospital expansion with every budget promised a decade ago, while Canberra continues to have the longest ER wait times in the country and a system health in crisis.
“This Chief Minister has systematically cut health funding since 2015-16 to the point where our frontline workers are at breaking point and Canberrans are being treated in hospital corridors.
“Frontline staff in a number of areas are insufficient, and none more so than in our schools, despite the Labor-Green government’s promise of 400 teachers in the last election.
“Once again, all this budget provides for our education system is more demountables, not enough teachers and funding to begin plans for a new middle school in Gungahlin that has been waiting for years.”
Ms Lee also called out the Chief Minister for not being candid with Canberrans when announcing his housing scheme over the weekend.
“All the chief minister provided was a glossy document that did not provide a breakdown of single, medium and high-density housing for fiscal year 2023-24 and beyond,” Ms Lee said. .
“What we do know is that the Labour-Green government plans to deliver 17 fewer homes in this new land release scheme than previously promised; Canberrans deserve real choice when it comes to housing options, and Labor and Greens are failing to deliver that to our community.
“The people of Canberra deserve so much more than what they are receiving under this government, and I am very concerned about the impact this continued mismanagement will have on the people of Canberra,” Ms Lee concluded.