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Don't mention the economic crisis - there's an election on

By John Passant - posted Thursday, 16 October 2008

There is an election on in the ACT on October 18. Enthusiasm is not a word to associate with it.

In the run up to the election, ACT politicians and would-be politicians are sprouting the usual nonsense. Better hospitals and a better health system. Better education. Better transport.

This is from people whose track record when in government in the ACT (both Labor and the Liberals) has been closed schools, longer waiting times at hospitals, less availability of local doctors, a useless bus system and a white horse major road that doesn’t actually do what our leaders said it would at a cost, so far, of $120 million.


But something is missing from all the chatter, white noise and waving political gnomes standing on the side of major roads as you drive to work.

Not one Canberra politician has actually mentioned the global economic crisis.

Even at a superficial level you’d think some of them, if they were truthful and honest, might be considering adding a caveat to their promises. You know, something like: “Paid maternity leave in the ACT Public Service will be extended to 18 weeks and there will be paternity leave of two weeks. This of course is subject to the Territory’s financial situation being robust enough to enable us to afford such a cost despite the global economic crisis.”

Funny, but I haven’t heard one politician mutter this truth contained in that last sentence. (The ALP has in fact offered an 18-week paid maternity leave scheme for its employees. But no mention of whether there is the ability to fund it.)

This conspiracy of silence about the impact of the economic crisis on the ACT makes me think our politicians know that we are in for tough times ahead but that such honesty might impact on their capacity to get elected. So they pretend the crisis doesn’t exist.

ACT Treasury might be able to help us here. To better inform voters like me, I suggest that before October 18 they release their analysis of what our local economy will be like in a year. Even releasing advice they have been giving the Chief Minister recently about our future economic prospects would help us as citizens make an informed choice.


As a layman, let me make a few assertions about the impact of the global crisis on the Canberra economy.

Commercial interest rates will remain high or rise since banks are frightened to lend to themselves, let alone us. Credit will become much tighter.

The crisis in the financial system will spread into the real economy.

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About the Author

John Passant is a Canberra writer ( and member of Socialist Alternative.

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