Page 2998 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022
The lack of attention paid by the government to the sporting and recreation needs of residents of this town, the nation’s capital, the bush capital of Australia, and supposedly a great place in which to live, is deplorable. There must be a renewed focus on providing services and facilities to the Canberra community that match the expectations of maintenance and high-quality lifestyle, and value for rates and fees paid to the government.
There was little evidence in the recent budget that suggests that the sporting and leisure pursuits of Canberra citizens are being recognised and thus adequately resourced.
MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (5.53): I rise to make a few observations about the budget, particularly in the areas of sport, infrastructure, tourism and business. Beforehand, I will make some observations about the budget more broadly from my perspective. Of course, while it is not ideal to be in deficit and it is not sustainable to be in deficit for a long time, I feel quite confident and positive about the general direction of the budget relative to other subnational governments, state and territory governments across the country, who are continuing to recover economically and socially from the pandemic. I think the government highlighting a more than $800 million improvement in the budget bottom line over this period shows that there is some good economic leadership.
One of the reasons I wanted to make some remarks about the budget position more broadly is, in particular, the context of the contribution to the debate made by the Leader of the Opposition’s “lower taxes, better services too, electric boogaloo” presentation—that we can have it all and we cannot pay anything more for it. I find it really galling at this point in the parliamentary term, two years in and into our third budget, given the mini budgets. We should all be preparing for what things are going to look like in a few years—what an alternative government might look like—and they are still running the same old, “Canberrans can have it all and not pay anything, or maybe even pay less to have it.” It continues to blow my mind.
Sports infrastructure is a really good example. A new stadium would be great. I would love a new stadium. I think lots of Canberrans would love a new stadium. Has anyone seen the sticker price for a new stadium recently? Pricey. Those things cost a lot of money, and those things would have to be built by “boys and girls” in high-vis, who the government is currently putting to work to the nth degree to try and build more public housing, as one example, or the new schools for a growing population.
I think the budget shows not only the government’s broader priorities and policy direction; I am proud to say it also shows a strong influence from my Greens colleagues in that budget preparation. The Chief Minister and I do not agree on everything when it comes to economic theory, but what I will say is that this budget has chosen to prioritise an increase to specialist homelessness services, as opposed to balancing the budget. This might be a controversial view, but I think that is a good thing.
This budget has prioritised building new schools, the Canberra Hospital expansion, and buying and building more public housing, rather than pursuing the mythical neoliberal desire for a budget surplus to say that you have one. I think that is a good