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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (1 May) . . Page.. 1302 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this budget charts a safe passage through an uncertain fiscal sea. It is an economically responsible budget-a budget that ensures we are genuinely living within our means. Above all, it is a balanced budget.

This budget delivers for the people of Canberra and delivers for one reason and one reason only: we have done the hard yards. We have had the vision, the ticker, and the focus to get the territory's economy into a position of strength. Without fiscal responsibility our social objectives would have been unachievable.

This government has shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the past few years to get the ACT economy back on course. After inheriting a $344 million operating loss from Labor, we have weathered the storm now with two successive budgets in the black. Labor put the budget on Bankcard. We have not only paid off the card; we have cut it up. Eliminating Labor's loss has turned a millstone into a milestone.

This budget delivers a modest surplus of a little over $12 million. It is not our goal to prise huge surpluses from the wallets and purses of the community. We aim for a balanced budget and we will achieve a balanced budget. Fiscal responsibility has enabled us to return an exceptional and carefully targeted dividend to the community. We will do this without borrowing; we will do this without raising any new taxes. We will do this by properly providing for our long-term liabilities, leaving our children largely debt free.

This budget is not just about balancing the books; it is also a budget with heart. It is a budget with heart because it offers help to families, to the elderly, to those living in poverty, to our indigenous population and to young people at risk. There is a very significant focus on health and education, and we make no apologies for that. Hospitals and schools are a high priority for the people of Canberra, and they are a high priority for us as well.

The community dividend we return today comes under three broad headings: innovation, early intervention and addressing poverty. Why these three themes? Innovation is about jobs and building Canberra's future. Early intervention is about confronting social problems before they start; it is about investing in our future. And addressing poverty is about our collective responsibility for and obligation to the disadvantaged in our society. These three themes reflect the government's investment in social capital, building a partnership between the community, business and government. They also consolidate our work over the past few years and build a platform for the territory's future growth.

There are two further themes to this budget: a commitment to the family and a commitment to fight both crime and the causes of crime in this community.

The family is the keystone of our social arch. While Canberra is undoubtedly one of the best places to bring up a family, as any parent in this place would know, the task is never easy. Many initiatives in this budget are designed to help ease the burden on Canberra's families.

Crime continues to be a major concern for the people of Canberra, and this budget again winds back the cuts Labor inflicted on policing when they were in power and puts more police into the community. We need to be tough on crime but also smart on crime. That

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