The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Leader of the Opposition): Members will remember that after the 2002 state election the first Rann government broke a series of fundamental election promises that it made right across the board, starting in the tax area. Fundamental commitments not to introduce any new taxes or charges and not to increase any existing taxes and charges were thrown out the window in the first budget of 2002. The moral underpinning of the Rann government—then and now—was laid bare in the Hansard of the House of Assembly on 15 July 2002 when Treasurer Kevin Foley said:
“You do not have the moral fibre to go back on your promise. I have. . .”
That moral underpinning of the Rann government from 2002, sadly, has continued not only for the Treasurer but also the Premier, ministers and all other Labor members for the past four or five years. We saw most of the significant election promises made in 2002 broken in the government’s first four years, even to the extent where the government or the Labor Party had given a written guarantee to the Hotels Association not to increase taxes on the industry for the next four years. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Labor organisation (of which the Hon. Mr Hunter would be familiar) pocketed a tidy six-figure sum from the Hotels Association on the basis of that written undertaking from the Treasurer. Within weeks of the election the Treasurer, the Premier and this government tore up that written guarantee and significantly increased the level of taxation on the industry. Sadly, this government does not seem to have learnt, and we are now seeing the careful preparation of the ground for the breaking of significant election promises in the 2006 budget—the first budget after the 2006 state election.
I turn to the government’s commitments about no Public Service job or service cuts, and I refer members to an interview the Treasurer gave on ABC Radio on 16 March. Mr Foley said:
“We at this point are looking at about 800 additional vital public servants in our promises to date. That is 400 police, 100 teachers, 44 new medical specialists.”
Matthew Abraham asked the question, `And you won’t fund those by getting rid of other jobs?’; and Mr Foley said no. It was clear, explicit and absolute that the Rann government was giving the commitment that, even if it was to add additional officers in terms of police and teachers, it would not reduce other Public Service jobs to help pay for those new positions. Jan McMahon from the PSA on 22 June indicated the nature of the promise that they had been given. She said:
“The government gave a commitment that it would not reduce jobs and it would not reduce services. If they break that promise then that will be very significant.”
It is clear that the government is intent on breaking that particular commitment. The government evidently has constructed some new Treasury estimate of the existing number of officers within the public sector. It seems extra¬ordinary that this Treasurer’s lack of command of what is occurring in the public sector has reached the degree where finally, after five years, he has been brought to the position of trying to implement some degree of control.
The reality is that in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 state budgets there was an estimated increase of some 666 jobs in the Public Service. It blew out to approximately 6 900—a blow out of 6 243 extra public servants in just three budg¬ets—unbudgeted increases in Public Service numbers. The tragedy is that, after five years, the Treasurer does not have the capacity to control financial management and service job numbers in the public sector and only now has been dragged kicking and screaming to a position where he might institute some degree of control.