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The next ACT budget will, however, look very different in its presentation. Although the level of expenditure will be the same as we currently show for the 1996-97 budget, superannuation, capital works, accommodation and other real costs will be fully presented for each class of goods and services. The first stage is demonstrated in the presentation of this year's budget details. Last year the budget contained financial information broken down to only 26 programs. This year details of all 123 subprograms are reported in the budget papers because we believe that our agencies and the moneys they spend should rightly be subject to close public scrutiny. For the first time, too, we have produced a special budget paper - this one here - that provides a clear and concise summary that sets out exactly where your money is spent and why, because, as a government, we start from the principle that the money we are spending is not ours; it belongs to Canberrans. It is yours, and we must be accountable for how it is spent.

In conclusion, this budget is based not on rubbery figures but on real outcomes. It is a three-year program that has as its underlying premise the need for the ACT to reduce spending to match its income. It is about change, but not for the sake of it. It is a blueprint that will enable resources to be directed to where they are most needed - in health, in education and in other essential services. It also puts paid to the pork barrel. This is the first time that a government has pre-empted its election year budget in its first year in office. There are no rash promises, either this year or in the future. All new initiatives will have to be funded within the bottom lines that agencies have been allocated today. Agencies will, however, be able to plan more efficiently because they now know what they have to deliver and what their budget will be for coming years. As well as eliminating borrowings, the budget strategy will hold taxes and charges to no more than New South Wales levels, maintain and improve services through greater efficiency and reduced duplication, retain our high credit rating and allow us to begin setting aside real provisions for future liabilities.

Whatever government is elected in just over two years’ time, this budget strategy will ensure that it inherits a strong financial position. If that does not happen to be a Liberal government, we on this side of the Assembly will walk away in the knowledge that we changed Canberra from a city that always kept looking over its shoulder and avoiding hard decisions to a city that looked to the future. I commend this three-year budget to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Follett) adjourned.



MR SPEAKER: For the information of members, I present a report on a trip undertaken by Ms McRae, MLA, to Melbourne on 25 August 1995.

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