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Obsession with debt disappointing and disturbing.

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Senator Meg Lees Parliamentary Leader and Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Treasury

Press Release Dated: 12 Nov 2000

Press Release Number: 00/699 Portfolio: Treasury Related: Education

Obsession with debt disappointing and disturbing The Howard Government’s preoccupation with debt-retirement is disappointing and disturbing, according to Australian Democrats’ Leader, Senator Meg Lees.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s appearance today on the Ten Network’s “Meet the Press”, Senator Lees said that the Government still refused to accept that Australia’s level of public sector debt is very low by international standards.

“The Prime Minister’s indication today that the higher than expected budget surplus is to be used to retire debt ignores the desperate need to reinvigorate Australia’s education and research and development sectors,” said Senator Lees.

“The National Account figures, released in September, showed that Australia’s expenditure on education had fallen by 2.6% while the economy had grown by 4.7%.

“Australia’s spending on education was a mere 4.2% of GDP (compared with 5.2% in the OECD) and in the context of this and the significantly weakened Australian dollar, I find it deeply disappointing and disturbing that Mr Howard is unable to shake off his obsession with debt retirement.”

In response to Mr Howard’s announcement of increased spending on roads, largely fuelled by the increased revenue flowing to Government from the hike in international oil prices, Senator Lees agreed that there was a need to allocate some funding to Australia’s rural road network.

“However, I am disappointed to note that Australia’s rail system did not rate a mention. If the Howard Government really wants to do some “nation-building”, it could well direct some funds to the regeneration of the national rail infrastructure,” said Senator Lees.

“There is more to our transport needs than roads. If we are to look to Australia’s future, we need to take some hard decisions now. Major improvements to our rail infrastructure would be a good

place to start.”

Senator Lees also expressed her disappointment at the Prime Minister’s statement that his Government is not going to compromise with the Senate over the States Grants Bill.

“I remain disappointed that the ALP is not going to insist on the amendments made by the Senate last week.

“Mr Howard should be aware that the Democrats cannot, in good conscience, vote for this Bill in its present form.

“Nothing the Prime Minister said this morning would even make us think about changing our position on this bill,” concluded Senator Lees.


Top | Email | Tell us what you think Authorised by: Jim Downey, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2604. Copyright © 2000 Australian Democrats Last modified: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:51:26 Today: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 12:18:44