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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2010) . . Page.. 2909 ..

Detail stage

Clause 1.

Debate (on motion by Ms Burch) adjourned to the next sitting.

Environment—urban street trees

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.07): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) the importance of street trees to the residents of Canberra;

(b) that the ACT Budget has gutted the program to replace existing street trees by $11.2 million; and

(c) the Greens/Labor Estimates Committee report which failed to address the reduction in the Government’s street tree budget, despite it being raised in committee hearings; and

(2) calls on the Government to immediately, and without delay, divert funding from the National Arboretum Canberra to the street tree replacement program, ensuring that there are sufficient funds available to replace street trees where necessary.

This motion is about a number of things: it is about priorities; it is about what kinds of priorities this government has; it is about fiscal responsibility; and it is about the unique nature of Canberra. It is about all of those things, and I will address each of them in turn.

I will deal with priorities first. This is a government that has demonstrated over a period of time that it is increasingly out of touch with the priorities of Canberrans. In its everyday decisions, in its budgets, in how it spends taxpayer dollars, it spends money often on things that please members of the government far more than things that are important to the community. And we believe that a government has a fundamental responsibility to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and to focus the limited pool of taxpayer dollars to where it is most important to the community.

That leads to all sorts of choices. There are all sorts of things that one might like to fund in a perfect world. There are all sorts of things that are not a bad idea necessarily in and of themselves. But they need to be prioritised. What we see in this year’s budget is a fundamental misallocation of resources from ACT Labor. It is a fundamental misallocation of resources to say, “We have got $26 million that we believe needs to be spent on the arboretum over the next few years”—$26 million extra that needs to be spent over the next few years—“but we are going to find savings in order to pay for promises like that. And we are going to find those savings by gutting our street tree program.”

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