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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2006) . . Page.. 2864 ..

We know that most particularly by the stark example of health expenditure. We have clawed health expenditure back to less than 10 per cent in this budget. It will take an enormous effort to achieve those outcomes, and Ms Gallagher has just commented on that. But the unrestrained, incremental increase in health expenditure that has seen, in our period of government, health expenditure increase by $250 million to $300 million in the space of five years is a level of incremental increase that is simply unsustainable and one which would have led, by the year 2020, to 50 per cent, or half, of our entire budget being expended on health. That is simply not possible. It is simply unsustainable.

This is an issue that affects governments all around Australia. I was present at a talk given by Morris Iemma, the Premier of New South Wales. He used precisely the same example. Morris Iemma said that, by 2030, the incremental increase in health expenditure in New South Wales would have resulted in the entire New South Wales budget being required to fund health.

These are the issues that we face as a community. This is at the heart of the decisions that we have taken in this budget. We had the courage to take those hard decisions. You shirked those decisions year after year in government. It is those significant reductions in increase in expenditure, not reductions in expenditure, but reductions in the increase in expenditure that are at the heart of the budget that has been delivered this year and which the Assembly was pleased to pass.

That is at the heart of the budget decisions that we have taken and of our forecasts. It is about a sustainable future. It is about a future in which our children and grandchildren will inherit government services that deliver quality services to the extent to which they are delivered now and from which we have benefited so significantly. That level of service delivery is at sore risk if we continue to pretend that we can sustain an education system that is 30 per cent under utilised and leaching at the rate of one per cent a year. If we believe that this is sustainable and that, by sustaining a system that is inefficient, we can provide the same opportunities and educational outcomes into the future that we have been able to provide to date, we cannot. It takes a government that is committed to the future and to quality educational outcomes to take the decisions that need to be taken, and this is the government that has done it.

MR SPEAKER: The Chief Minister’s time has expired.

Commissioner for Children and Young People

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for community affairs. It concerns the as yet unfilled position of Commissioner for Children and Young People and the capacity for that person to meet their responsibilities. Minister, I understand from an answer to a question on notice that this commissioner will also be the disability and community services commissioner. Can the minister assure the Assembly that the part-time children’s commissioner will have sufficient resources to provide adequate support for the most vulnerable children and young people, including those deemed at risk of unsatisfactory educational outcomes who will be affected by the 2020 school closure program, and that the office will not be put in place too late to make that difference?

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