Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1738 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Generally, in relation to items like capital works, I thought they were very light-on. I was concerned to see only a limited number of capital works in relation to my own area of Belconnen. There are a number of things that I have indicated are occurring there. I was pleased to finally see a start on William Hovell Drive. That is another initiative we started but, again, it is light-on.
Mr Speaker, this is a budget that really does not do very much for the territory. If this is the best this government can do in good economic times, God help us when times get tough.
MS DUNDAS (4.01): Canberrans know what is good about our city. The cityscape is clean, green and open. It is easy to drive around to see friends and family. In crisis we reach out to help people in need. The outpouring of generosity following the January bushfires showed that Canberra has a big heart. But in some parts of our city community networks are not strong enough to ensure that people are getting the support they need to keep their lives on track.
Canberrans want a healthy, sustainable and vibrant city. In short, they want to have the most liveable city in Australia, and I think it is up to all of us in this Assembly to make that happen. With this in mind, I am pleased, on behalf of the ACT Democrats, to reply to the budget speech.
Mr Speaker, last year's budget was a budget of reviews, and this year's budget is a budget of token responses, whilst leaving some of the big issues not addressed. Last year's budget signalled that the Stanhope government did not know what to do. This year they show they lack the courage to do it properly.
Canberrans know that there are ways that our city can be improved. When talking to the community there are three things that always come up. Firstly, we are told that our public transport system is inadequate, that people without cars find it hard to visit friends or get to work, and that most car commuters do not see buses as a viable option. Secondly, people talk about the financial stress caused by renting and by buying houses that have become unaffordable. Also, there is a shortage of bulk-billing general practitioners, and the fear future has only been heightened by the talk of changes to Medicare. Unfortunately, these issues are not properly tackled in this year's budget. However, there are initiatives that are positive, and I will give credit where credit is due.
Both in last year's budget and this year's budget we have seen the purchase of new buses, but there are no new bus services on existing routes. There is still an urgent need for extra services at night and on the weekends, and an investment in the operation of public transport could result in a substantial reduction in future spending on road upgrades, and improve the quality of life and employment opportunities for all Canberrans, including those who do not have cars. However, this government has refused to put more resources into public transport. In fact, they expect to reduce payments to ACTION for public transport services by $1.7 million in the next financial year.
In the lead-up to this year's budget I floated the idea of a tied parking space levy on commercial businesses in Civic, similar to that which exists in other capital cities. A levy