Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1701 ..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
I support federal Labor's attempt to secure equitable outcomes for all Australians from this budget-not division, not persecution and not waste.
MRS CROSS (11.31): I would like to briefly respond to some of the supposed criticism the government has made of the federal budget. The Howard government's seventh budget provides a record $64 billion over the next four years to continue its commitment to Australia's future success and prosperity.
There is more money for higher education. The employment prospects of up to 46,000 older Australians will be enhanced through a four-year, $23 million budget initiative to improve their information technology skills.
Australia's high skill base will benefit from two new apprenticeship initiatives worth $54 billion over the next four years in innovation and school-based training. There is also more money for schools and school teachers. Commonwealth spending on schools, a record $6.6 billion in this budget, has grown by over 80 per cent since the Howard government took office in 1996.
A record $3 billion is allocated to developing science, technology and innovation, and a further $445 million will be available during the next financial year for improving indigenous students' skills, both skills at school and those needed for the work force.
Contrary to the predictable Labor rhetoric, this is not a cruel budget. Opposing parties have made a rather crude attempt in the media to paint a picture of the sick and disadvantaged being asked to fund a boost in defence and border protection. This is a nonsense, and the opposition knows it.
The electorate sent a clear message that it was concerned about border protection, and that message includes a clear understanding that steps will be taken to boost protection of our borders. This does not come without some cost. Added to that has been the vastly changed international security picture resulting from the September 11 events.
Those who oppose spending to increase our defence and security capabilities would like to think Australia operates in a vacuum. It does not. We are part of the global community, and being part of that community brings many social and economic benefits. But it also brings responsibilities, and this budget has recognised those responsibilities and acted upon them.
The nonsense that the sick and disabled are being made to pay for the added protection the country and community will enjoy from this budget does no credit to those who spout it. The community is paying for the extra comfort and security, both of which are of great importance to Australian families.
As I have stated, there are too many positives in this budget to fully list here. But this budget has been designed to support Australia's economic recovery and see that our future is assured.
The changes to the PBS do not target the sick or poor. In fact, there is a safeguard of 52 scripts a year, after which the drugs are free. So the chronically ill and aged will not shoulder the responsibility. Those on the other side of the chamber might do well to heed