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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 366 ..

MR STANHOPE: I am pleased to present this government's first legislation program for the Fifth Assembly. The program foreshadows the legislation that the government intends to bring forward during the autumn 2002 sittings.

The focus of this program is on good and responsive government. It combines financial and business matters that require annual attention with initiatives and reforms for better responsible management of the territory and reforms to meet election promises. Time will not allow for comment on all proposed legislation. I therefore intend to comment on only a few items that are a priority for the government.

A key Labor election promise was good governance underpinned by sound and sustainable financial management. In line with this, the government will be proposing to introduce its first budget in June this year. Central to the operation of the territory, the Appropriation Bill 2002-2003 will outline the proposed appropriations that will be made available to departments for the 2002-03 financial year.

This morning the government introduced Appropriation Bill 2001-2002 (No 3). This bill is to address additional budget pressures and key election commitments not addressed in Appropriation Bill 2001-2002 (No 2), which was tabled and passed by the Assembly in the December 2001 sitting.

To strengthen this government's management of the territory's finances, it will introduce amendments to the Financial Management Act 1996. The amendments will enhance financial integrity by focusing on issues identified in the review of the act.

Concurrent with budget considerations, the government will seek to amend the Rates and Land Tax Act 1926 for the implementation of an interim rating system for 2002-03. By doing so the government will provide for a fairer system by capping rate increases to the forecast consumer price index for 2002-03.

Amendments I know will be particularly welcomed by first home buyers are proposed to the First Home Owner Grant Act 2000. It will give legislative effect to the Commonwealth's extension of a grant under the first home owners scheme to first home buyers. The Commonwealth has extended the grant scheme to 30 June 2002 but reduced the additional grants for new home constructions to $3,000. Administrative arrangements have been in place pending the legislative amendments, which will have a retrospective start date of 9 October 2001.

Health was also a key election issue for Labor, and we have already started to implement a number of commitments. The government will be proposing new health legislation and also amendments to address deficiencies or to consolidate and rationalise several existing pieces of legislation.

A high government priority is a new proposed Community and Health Services Complaints Amendment Bill 2002. The bill will clarify policy issues within existing legislation and provide for an enhanced operational relationship between the commissioner and the Health Professions Board.

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