Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1712 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
There are a couple of other issues I want to touch on. The Treasurer, in his half-hour 20-page speech, did not use the word "Aboriginal" or "indigenous" once. It is a major concern that the government's commitment to reconciliation and advancing the interests of indigenous people in this nation does not score a reference in the annual budget. Mr Howard and others within the federal government have constantly referred to a commitment to practical reconciliation. The federal government will not say sorry. It will not acknowledge the wrongs of the past. It will not acknowledge the need for us to be serious about reconciliation. It moves the debate from reconciliation to this new practical reconciliation but then, in an apparent avoidance even of the commitment to practical reconciliation, it does not mention indigenous people within the budget speech or within the budget itself. We need to focus on this.
The budget cuts the indigenous education strategic initiatives program by 27 per cent nationally. That is major blow to the emerging indigenous communities in Australia.
There is no real mention of education and the importance of education to the nation. The absence of support for education is the major flaw in this budget. There is no recognition of how important education is to the future of the nation not just because of its social justice implications but because it is a major driver of economic development.
MR SPEAKER: Order! The Chief Minister's time has expired.
MR SMYTH (12.19): Mr Speaker, we have heard many words here today, but I have not heard the government suggest any solutions or ask the federal government what they mean. It is easy to stand up and say, as the Chief Minister just did, that the federal budget is mean and tricky. What has he done about it? He says that it is tricky because we do not know the detail of funding for GPs in the metropolitan fringe and we do not know the detail of oncology funding across Australia. Has he bothered to ask? Has he bothered to ring Senator Patterson's office and ask, "What is the detail?" I did. If you ring, you might find out. Doctors will go to the perimeters of the six major capital on the basis of the areas of most need.
I put it to Senator Patterson's office that we have a dilemma in Lanyon Valley, which has a very small number of doctors for a very large population. They said that they will look at that. I asked them to give me the figures so I can see where we fall on the list. Chief Minister, instead of just bleating, you can ask and find out.
The Chief Minister said that he does not know about the oncology program and he hopes that we might be included. Again, what have you done about it? Answer: nothing but come here and bleat. I also asked how those areas will be decided? A study is being done to determine the areas most in need of these additional services so that those who need them most will get them first. Last night Senator Coonan, the Assistant Treasurer, said, "You have to understand that we are a region. The Canberra Hospital provides an enormous number of services to surrounding New South Wales." She said she would take that into consideration.
It is all very well to move a motion that says the federal budget is bad, bad, bad, but what do we do about it? Those opposite simply bleat.