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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1709 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

If Ms Dundas is suggesting that defence spending should not have been increased, she is sadly wrong. Defence is the first duty of government. One pleasing aspect in this budget is that there was an increase in defence spending.

Over seven years now the coalition government has done very well with its sensible, well-managed budgets that have seen real progress in this country for all members of our society-people who are well off, middle and lower income earners and people who are not quite so fortunate as most of us in this community.

Overall, a strong economy has benefited all sections of our society. That has been because of seven pretty good budgets. There are never going to be things in the budget that please everyone-that is just a fact of life-but governments do have to be responsible, as I hope our current ACT government is finding as it struggles to put together its first budget.

MR PRATT (12.04): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the federal government's budgetary initiatives. I also rise to take issue with a number of comments made in this place this morning about the Australian government's priority spending and allocation of expenditure to defence and security areas.

The budget has had to undertake essential expenditure planning in areas that we as a community probably would prefer to see them not spend that money. We would prefer to see money spent on education, hospitals and family programming. But the reality of this world is that security is even more of an issue than it was a couple of years ago and the government has had to react. If in its safety management responsibilities the government did not look to putting money aside to take care of contingencies, it would be irresponsible.

To criticise the federal government for allocating expenditure for the war against terror and for allocating money for internal security contingencies is breathlessly naive. This country of ours has to take a broad approach to helping intervene in and stop the troubles around this world. That means a package of international aid, peace-making, long-term development aid, and forces to assist in the making of peace. It is naive to say that we can head off the problems that arise from the war against terror by simply spending funds in countries which have problems. We have to make the peace first, or we have to make the peace and provide umbrella support to those we send overseas to undertake international aid programs.

The comments made by Ms Tucker in relation to this expenditure were monumentally naive, as were her comments that we should not be looking to spend so much money on internal security. This is the language we often hear from the rabid left. As usual, it is expressed in emotional, ideological terms.

The government has to introduce appropriate measures to protect the majority of Australians. We know that there is a risk. It is there for anybody who wants to assess it. There is a risk of internal security incidents in this country at the moment, and the government would be irresponsible not to put in place the correct procedures to ensure that these issues are taken care of. The government has to spend money to protect the national interests, and it has to spend money to protect the majority of Australians. That is why these measures are being brought into place.

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