Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2384 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
There is in this town unmet need. Some of the speakers mentioned that. And, of course, if you are on the crossbench, the government can never do enough. I would love to be on the crossbench telling the government what to spend. But I think we have gone pretty well as far as we can go in meeting pressing need within the territory.
There has been some accusation in this place, and pretty well only in this place, that this budget does nothing for business. Well, this budget does do a fair bit for business. This budget does have a knowledge fund. This budget does actually support the IT Centre of Excellence. This budget does have small business employment ready programs. This budget does continue the visitation program for school kids to help the tourism industry. This budget did defer the HIH collapse levy that was going to be applied on workers compensation.
This budget puts forward a capital budget that will represent, if achieved, expenditure in the next financial year on capital works of $141 million. The budget brought down last year by the past government was going to achieve only $120-something million. I have to say I expect that we won't quite get to our $141 million because if we achieve our capital budget to the dollar we will be the first government since self-government to do so.
I would add that the money we are spending inside the school gate on education is an investment on behalf of business as well as the community. Anybody who analyses ACT business and the ACT economy says our primary asset is our educated population. We don't have primary resources to mine or harvest. We have an educated population. We have to be the smart city and, like it or not, that claim received a whole lot of nods from the audience at a business dinner and a business breakfast that I attended.
Business in the ACT is robust, it is resilient, and it isn't stupid-it isn't congenitally stupid. Business realises that what is necessary in this town is that we continue to develop and provide for people. As I have said, this budget has been accepted and complimented by many people in the business sector. They recognise that this is needed if we are to run the town well.
Somehow this budget has ranged from being a big spending budget, to being an accountant's budget, to being a grey budget. Well, it can't be all of those things. As I pointed out in question time, Mr Humphries has claimed that the budget lacks imagination. As I said, I genuinely did glance at or look through the last couple of budget speeches and I did not find anything particularly exciting in them. There was no gung-ho stuff contained therein.
It is easy to sling appellations about. But this is a responsible budget. This budget will achieve a surplus over time. We have all adopted the word "disingenuous", but it is disingenuous on the part of the shadow Treasurer to be saying, "I want to take three years, because that suits me some, and say over those three years there is a deficit." He knows full well that the only reason there is a deficit is because there is a change in land development and therefore there is a delay in the reaping of the revenue from that. We will still own it. It is just a matter of, in some cases, we will be investing in the land before we sell it, as opposed to flogging it off in a raw state and the developer reaping the development reward. So other than that, it strikes out to keep the territory in surplus.