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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3300 ..


MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.00): I present the Appropriation Bill 1996-97, together with the explanatory memorandum and associated budget papers. Later this afternoon I will be presenting the ownership agreements and the purchase agreements related to my portfolio. Other Ministers will also be presenting purchase agreements relating to their portfolios.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the budget I present today has been framed in extremely difficult circumstances. Canberra's biggest employer, the Commonwealth, is shedding thousands of jobs. As a result, unemployment is rising, business confidence is low and population growth has stalled. At the same time, the resources available to my Government are under more pressure than ever before. The demand for services is rising at a time when our capacity to meet higher demand is severely constrained by limited sources of revenue.

Under these difficult circumstances, I am extremely proud of the budget we have put together. It is not so much a tough budget as a budget for tough times. It represents prudent financial management and leadership at a time of great economic challenge. This is a budget that delivers a cash surplus. It is a budget that will not require any new borrowings. In fact, it is a budget that repays debt. It is a budget that maintains and improves services to our community. Election commitments have been delivered in health and education, while spending has been increased in areas where it is most needed. But, most of all, this budget is about jobs, because right now that is what Canberrans need most. It is about creating new investment, new jobs and renewed confidence in the future of the ACT.

The budget papers I present today include a major statement on employment and economic revitalisation entitled "Jobs for Canberra". It outlines initiatives that will generate an estimated 2,700 new jobs in Canberra in both the public and private sectors and a further 3,000 training opportunities. That figure does not include jobs generated by our capital works program, which supports an estimated 1,500 jobs. The value of our new capital works program in this budget represents a 40 per cent increase on the money spent last financial year.

Mr Speaker, a year ago I came into this Assembly and announced a three-year budget strategy designed to put the management of this Territory back on track. Back then, I made it clear that this was a strategy that had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with reality. My second budget is no different. It is based on cold, hard reality - the reality that this Territory is facing its greatest challenge in almost two decades, and the realisation that from now on, whether we like it or not, the ACT is going to have to stand on its own two feet. In the past seven years, since the advent of self-government, successive Federal governments have shown that their commitment to Canberra is hollow.

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