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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2270 ..



There are other areas that deserve some credit. Addressing elder abuse is one. I am sure, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you will have something to say on that shortly. It is an issue that I think will affect the ACT quite significantly in the long term, particularly when we get to 2015 and the percentage of aged people in the territory reaches the national average.

We are now in a position, 12 years from that time, to do something, and addressing elder abuse is one of those elements. Well done to the government for that. But we need to see a commitment and it will need to be driven from the Chief Minister's office to make sure that all the services, whatever they might be-accommodation, housing, health, libraries, transport, access to information-are driven in a way that is more coordinated than they currently are.

With those few thoughts, Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend my amendment to the Assembly. I think that it is a reasonable amendment. I think that it tells the government that governments do have a right, as a convention, to their budgets, but that does not mean that the convention is a blind convention or that the right is a blind right and it does not mean that we are just going to pass budgets out of hand. If we are going to do that, we certainly should not have the estimates process and we should not be having this debate; we should just pass the budget.

I think we have a right, as Assembly members, to scrutinise the budget and, if appropriate, make suggestions as to how we would change it. That is what the opposition is doing today. The opposition will continue to look at all the lines of the budget throughout the course of today and on Thursday and, where we think it is appropriate, make suggestions for change.


(12.02): I have just a couple of comments. In the area of the Chief Minister's Department there are some good initiatives. I would like to congratulate the government on one in particular, that is, the one on fostering the development of small and medium business. It is really good to see money being spent into the outyears there. That is for the small end of town.

One concern, as Mr Smyth has alluded to, is about the payroll tax threshold. It was the dream, the desire and, indeed, the action of the former Liberal government to continue to raise that threshold and it is disappointing to see that that has been halted or slowed down. I do have a concern that this creates uncertainty within the business sector in the bigger end of town. The role of government should be about creating environments conducive to business growth and employment. I really believe that this simply is a deterrent to employment growth. It is disappointing to see that threshold not being lifted. A buoyant business community obviously means a buoyant economy, and we all benefit from that.

The other thing that I am keen to make note of for the public record is my extreme disappointment with the way in which Volunteering ACT are being treated. They play an incredibly valuable support role to government, I would suggest, and to the broader community. They save the taxpayers of the ACT millions of dollars a year. The sum of $62 million has been quoted in this place for the 80,000 to 100,000 people, including young people, who contribute to the volunteering force in the ACT.

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