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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2368 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

That brings me back to the health budget, because as you go into deficit you have to start cutting services or perhaps borrow. There are a number of options, but none of them guarantee sustainability of the health budget. It is curious that the definition of sustainability in the budget document called Shaping Canberra's Future is not the definition of sustainability in the discussion paper the Chief Minister released today entitled Towards a Sustainable ACT.

The word "sustainability" is scattered like confetti throughout the documents in some sort of charade, but the devil, as always, is in the detail. I would suggest the Canberra public look at the outyears. They will see that in real terms this government is going in cutting health funding. That is of great concern to me and the people of Canberra.

MR STEFANIAK (4.24): While there are some good things in this budget, there is a lot about it that is a worry. A number of members in this place, not too many, have sat through a number of budgets. I had the privilege of being part of seven budgets. The first few were deficit budgets. The then Liberal government in 1995 inherited a deficit from the previous Labor administration. With an immense effort, over a number of years that deficit was transformed into a surplus.

There are a number of worrying signs in this budget in the big picture. As the Leader of the Opposition and shadow Treasurer said, over three years it will deliver, even on the government's estimates, a deficit. The Treasurer might well think he has a crystal ball, but things can go wrong. What if something does go wrong? The deficit will be a lot bigger than he expects. That is not good news for the territory. It took a lot of work to get the budget back into the black, and a lot more effort could have ensured it stayed there.

I am sure Mrs Dunne will talk about the very worrying aspects of what is planned in planning, with the government taking back the development of land. Very scary outcomes could come from that.

Before I come to some specific portfolio areas, I will deal with the electorate of Ginninderra. When you sit in cabinet you like to see fairness. I must admit that on occasions I thought, "Come on, guys. Let us have a bit more for all electorates." All governments should ensure that that occurs. Given that the Chief Minister comes from Ginninderra, I was particularly disappointed that not a huge amount is to be spent in Belconnen.

I am pleased to see continuation of the William Hovell duplication. That is essential. That is something we started, and it is very good to see it continued. That is about $7 million. I note some works-not much, I must say-for stormwater and drains. There is a significant amount of money for much needed work in Weetangera. There are also moneys for development on the Lake Ginninderra foreshores. I am pleased to see too the carryover of moneys for the Belconnen pool. I am pleased to see that that will finally come to fruition, although not quite as quickly as some of us would have hoped. Those are the positives, but there is not much else.

I am very concerned to see paid parking at Belconnen and Tuggeranong. A lot of people who park there are battlers. Paid parking is something the previous government could well have introduced during its seven years. It was put to us by the public servants in 1995, but we resisted it because of the impact it would have had on the average punter.

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