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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1451 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

He missed the bit about Labor having a point when it says the Liberals have exaggerated the extent of the black hole they say they inherited. He missed the bit about the government getting a deal of help from the Commonwealth and an economy that has done well in adverse conditions. He missed the bit about it being reasonable to question the wisdom of free school buses rather than spending the money more directly upon education. But Labor, the Assembly and the community are entitled to read the full review and to ask the questions. We are entitled to quiz the government about its choice of priorities and about its lack of vision.

Despite the expected challenge from Mr Humphries yesterday to use this address to deliver our campaign launch, we will instead use the opportunity to discuss the shortcomings of his efforts. Labor has it own timetable by which we will detail the approach we will take to government and the priorities and initiatives we will concentrate on.

We have already started on that process. It is well advanced and we will continue to make announcements to our timetable. We will tell the electorate exactly what we plan and how we will fund it in plenty of time but a time of our choosing. We are happy to let the electorate judge us on what we say and what we commit to. One thing is sure: we will not be asking them to vote for stardust.

MS TUCKER (3.33): We obviously have not had time to go into all the detail of the budget. We will be able to do that through estimates. So I will make some general comments about what we have been able to get through so far. We welcome many of the initiatives in this budget. After five years of cutbacks and fiscal tightening in ACT government, with mounting pressure on an overstretched community sector, and following considerable analysis and agitation to address pressing problems in a profound and systematic way, the government has responded with an extensive array of initiatives.

I do not intend to address all the initiatives targeted to addressing poverty and early intervention. Almost without exception they are focused on genuine and unarguable need. I congratulate the government for recognising this need and acting through this budget.

While the initiatives themselves are new, the needs are not. The ACT Greens are concerned that a few months out from a difficult election the government, which is struggling for credibility, particularly in the areas of social justice and community development, has put on the table a raft of small initiatives, most of which can cost considerably less than a V8 supercar team competing in the GMC 400, and very many of which are considerably smaller than the $400,000 allocated to canteens at Bruce Stadium next year.

This government's version of social capital needs to be scrutinised carefully. It seems at times to be more about loading more responsibilities onto community service groups than about the government taking on its responsibilities to maintain public assets and services.

Much of the new expenditure in the community services portfolio is simply returning to the departments and, on occasion, community sector partners a little of the capacity to respond to need that has been stripped away from them over the past few years. In regard

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