Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1974..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
implementation. So whilst it is a very good discussion paper, the incentive and support for members of the community to respond to it are not provided, and that is something that I think the government needs to address.
This is a budget that has a lot for business, a bit for students and not much at all for people who currently have the least opportunity to succeed. We need to work harder to look after those in our community who are struggling and who need us the most.
It is interesting to note that, according to the budget papers, all of the reports and plans that this government has put down appear to be based on different sets of numbers. The government has projected a 2 per cent drop in territory revenue based on reduced income from land sales when, just in the last few months, the planning minister announced that 16,000 blocks were ready to be released and prices in Canberra were still rising. The budget papers talk about slow or steady employment growth, whereas the economic white paper is trying to set up the framework for aggressive employment growth. And the spatial plan is set upon the framework of aggressive population growth.
We need some consistency from this government if we are to believe the promises that they are making and if we are to be able to implement those promises across the ACT. Overall, Mr Deputy Speaker, there are some positive initiatives in this budget. The test will be to see whether or not the government actually delivers on these promises.
MR STEFANIAK (4.00): Mr Deputy Speaker, I have sat through quite a few budgets in this place. I have seen our territory budgets go from about $11/2 billion to now $2.6 billion. As Mr Smyth said, we have seen an unheard of $400 million in the last three years. It is in a way too good to be true. Is this sustainable? I think there are some significant problems with that, and quite clearly I doubt if it is. Stamp duty, of course, has gone up almost 100 per cent in the last year, and that is something that cannot last.
Economic times are good, not just here but right around Australia, and I think that is a very significant point. Of course, the ACT also has the benefit of increased GST revenue. So there is no real reason why, one would hope, the good aspects of the budget cannot continue. But I think, as my leader has said, there are some significant pointers that show that is simply not going to be the case.
You are right to ask: what exactly have we got for our money? There are some initiatives, and I will come to a few specific ones in my portfolio areas. People are still telling me about some significant problems. Take health, for example. Five or six years ago when you went to emergency you would wait for about two hours to be examined. Now you wait for six hours. At Easter I had a very disturbing phone call from an old gentleman about his 85-year-old wife who had fallen over and broken her arm. She went to Canberra Hospital on Easter Friday at 9.30 pm. As of about 10 o'clock on the Monday night her arm had not been operated on and set. Finally, at 2.30 pm on the Tuesday, some 33/4 days later, she went in and had her arm attended to. That simply is not good enough.
What is actually happening with all this money? Where are the services? Where is the value for your buck? We are simply not getting it with this government. As the economic cycle turns and as times get tougher, are we in a few years time going to be left in the situation we were in in the mid-1990s? Are we going to have a situation again of a future Liberal government going in and picking up the pieces, getting us back to a good state of