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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1085 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

My other chief concern is the impact that the budget will have on families. I am worried about families who require a larger car to transport their kids to school or sport. They will be paying up to $114 a year extra to register these vehicles. These same families face a rise in house and contents insurance - the flow-on effect from emergency services levies placed on insurance companies. Families are doing it tough, as it is, and they should not be disadvantaged any further.

I note also the promise of 14 extra police officers being transferred from administration to beat duties in Woden and Belconnen. I must say that I am fairly cynical about that sort of promise, because in the past those sorts of suggestions have not actually been realised. In Belconnen, in the electorate of Ginninderra, we lost four police officers from suburban patrols to the Gungahlin desk. I will watch carefully to see whether we really do have more police on the streets within the next 12 months. Based on my knowledge of police management and their tricks with numbers, I doubt it. Overall, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I believe that it is a fair budget, given these tight economic times, and I look forward to seeing it succeed.

MR KAINE (4.34): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I know that Mr Corbell is anxious to make a significant contribution to this debate; so, I will be fairly brief. I heard Mr Moore extolling the virtues of this budget as being the best one that had ever been brought down since self-government. I think he overstated the case a bit, because, in fact, when you look at it in the cold, hard light of day, it is a very ordinary budget. I described it that way yesterday and the day before. When you look at what the Government might have done - it will have four budgets before the next election, and this is the first of those four - the Government might have been very bold. It might even have taken a bit of political risk in order to get the budget under control and into shape. But, no, they are content to come up with a result for the year of about a $140m operating deficit, despite the fact that the Chief Minister has made much of the necessity to get this operating deficit down to zero or close to it.

What do we find? We find a very unadventurous budget. There are the usual things that you would expect to see scattered around - the token few dollars for unemployment, the token few dollars for small business, the token few dollars for tourism, all the popular causes - but nothing which is going to change significantly the status of any of those three things. I will be interested to see at the end of the year whether small business feels any happier as a result of the small amount injected into the area or whether tourism has really achieved any great strides because of the small amount that is going into there this year.

I know that they talk about $6m over three years. But let us look at this year. Do not worry about the next two; worry about this year. There is a bit of an injection into the information technology industry - fairly much to be expected, since the Government makes a great deal of the fact that information technology is going to be the saviour of the Territory. This is the whole backbone of our industrial effort. So, if you are not going to make any contribution to that, you are not making any contribution to anything much. The only thing of any great merit in the budget that I can see is the fact that they have at least attempted to do something about covering the superannuation liability - $40m this year.

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