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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1746 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

recovery of this community-out of existence. We need to help them establish and grow in the ACT, not scare them away to other regions. This parking tax does nothing to help that situation.

While I am pleased that this government has increased the actual amount provided for health and education, I am concerned that there appears to be little direction given as to where the money is spent or what taxpayers get in return. We cannot continue to just hand over money to any sector-including health and education-without expecting those sectors to be accountable. There are many areas that desperately need money so that they can provide better services, but there are plenty of others that are in desperate need of restructuring so that they can provide services more efficiently.

All government departments evolve over time and changes need to be made to accommodate the changing needs of this community. However, I see few examples of this government pushing for those efficiencies. Unless this occurs, taxpayers' money will be wasted. I am also disappointed at the government's lack of foresight. There is little vision for the future.

The ALP has been in power for a year and a half now-more than enough time to get a feel for the job. We are still waiting for its vision for business, and that is quite a few months away, I understand. There is no money allocated in this budget for any new initiatives anyway, so I guess we will have to wait another 12 months for anything new there, if at all. Overall, Mr Speaker, this is not a brilliant budget but it probably gets a low pass mark from this member.

MR PRATT (4.30): Mr Speaker, I rise to follow up on the Leader of the Opposition's analysis of this government's budget. The 2003-04 budget represents nothing more than a "steady hand on the tiller"with little in the way of new initiatives. There is no vision of excellence in education, no strategy for the protection of the people of the ACT against natural and unnatural disasters, and very little innovative or strategic assistance for our police and emergency services personnel.

This, Mr Speaker, is the budget of a government completely satisfied with the status quo. It would seem they have so little interest in education issues that they have not identified any problems that they ought to address. This government is so complacent about future emergency incidents that it has not identified any real deficiencies that it ought to cover. And this is a government that takes the service provided by the Australian Federal Police so much for granted that it fails to recognise any gaps in the system that it has a duty to address.

Let me refer in particular to the education portfolio. The new minister for education has failed to articulate a forward program or strategy for the future of ACT schools, from pre-school right through to college. What an opportunity missed, Mr Speaker. Perhaps the minister could make some effort to tell us what is wrong, what needs doing. Where has she actually identified need and where does she think she is heading in this portfolio? In her mind, where are the inadequacies in the system? Neither I nor anyone in the education sector is clear on what the minister expects to achieve in the education portfolio. I understand that the minister is new, I understand that the minister has just arrived in that portfolio, but, Minister, let's find out quickly what your strategy is. Where is your innovation? What, in short, is your plan?

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