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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2355 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Most importantly, however, this is a document which foreshadows a significant deterioration to the territory's bottom line over the next three years. On its own figures over the next three years, the territory's budget will be in the red. That is an extremely serious comment on any budget for any government at this time.

The ACT is in an extremely strong financial position. We have a basic underlying economic position-a budgetary position that most treasurers across Australia would give their eye teeth for, and we will be squandering it in the space of the next three years.

Mr Deputy Speaker, that is reprehensible in the extreme. Perhaps economic circumstances will save the government from its own folly, but if it does not, then this territory will experience what it should never have experienced, having climbed out of a $344 million abyss just a couple of years ago-that is, a budget which once again goes into the red. This territory deserves better. It does not get it from this budget.

MS DUNDAS (3.35): It is my honour to rise today on behalf of the Australian Democrats and reply to Treasurer Quinlan's 2002 budget speech. Compared with most other states in Australia, the ACT is a small community with a small population and a small budget. In general, our unemployment rate is lower than the rates in other states and our affluence is greater. Tourists who come to Canberra see it as a curiosity, a mixture of national icons and bush suburbs. We are seen from the outside as a patch of middle-class suburbia that federal MPs drive through on their way to the house on the hill.

This budget, the first delivered by the ALP's Treasurer Quinlan, just confirms that image. It is all about making Canberra look good from a distance but not fixing up the problems that lie just beneath the surface. This is despite a stamp duty windfall that has helped deliver a surplus. This budget promises record high spending on capital works, while the government has turned a blind eye to the poor and to the homeless.

This budget, I must say, is a budget of narrow vision from a bland government. Each minister has funded a pet project and the government has presented a nice set of numbers at the expense of decent levels of community services and of affordable housing. This budget is what we should call a lean cuisine budget. It contains a few dainty, well presented morsels that ultimately fail to satisfy. It is a budget that was delivered prepackaged, frozen and ready to eat, but the Australian Democrats will not swallow it. While we can expect the federal government to treat Canberra only as the nation's capital, without funding programs for the benefit of ACT residents, I am extremely disappointed that our territory government appears to be doing the same.

Last October the people of Canberra went to the polls and transformed the make-up of the ACT Assembly. We did have a change of government but, just as importantly, Canberrans elected a socially progressive crossbench. Since the last election we have seen the new government at pains to say how different it is from the old government. It has even resorted to paid advertising to prove it. We have a new Attorney-General who appeared at first glance to be more progressive than his predecessors, but this budget indicates only more of the same on law and order. This budget shows that the government will prioritise prosecution over prevention. This budget has provided a funding increase for the Director of Public Prosecutions to increase the number of criminal prosecutions, more money for Quamby and an increase in parking fines. But

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