Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 17 March 2005) . . Page.. 1206 ..
for social and economic equity. Nonetheless, it is clear that the GST revenue has been a benefit to the ACT and other state and territory treasuries.
It is important to establish what an economy is for. Too often, as the speakers today have done, it is treated as an end in itself. The Greens look upon the economy as a way of managing our assets and liabilities to improve our environment, to deliver sustainability and to deliver good lives to citizens on an equitable basis. There is a necessity to diversify the ACT economy and to make it more resilient. It would be good if all of us could just accept that. It needs to be based on the recognition that the best way to tackle poverty is to increase access to higher quality social services. If everyone, regardless of their income, disability and age, has access to housing, education at all levels, good health and dental services, and affordable recreation and cultural facilities and activities, I would say that our economy is doing its job.
If our environmental management maximises biodiversity and discourages weed and pest proliferation, safeguards our water and provides places for Canberrans and Canberra’s visitors to enjoy, then I would say our economy is doing its job. If our commitment to sustainability uses economic measures to reduce our pollution and our energy and water use, then I would say that we are using our economic tools appropriately. The commitment to sustainability requires a different approach to economic management than either Mr Mulcahy or Mr Quinlan has promoted today, though aspects of their speeches do resonate with the Greens.
We cannot brush off the Auditor-General’s warnings. This is an expert impartial voice and begs to be heeded. Whichever party is in power will have to tackle that, and I am sure that whichever party is in power would obfuscate. We do have to decrease our reliance on land sales. The commonwealth gave the ACT a precious trust—a leasehold system that we are treating like a freehold system. We have to use our strengths and our aims to build an economy that does what we want it to do—to provide jobs, to develop skills, to be marketable both inside and outside the territory.
Do we want energy efficient houses? We say we do. There is a whole industry waiting to be built on that—and the expertise exists within our territory—but we have to mandate benchmarks for this market development, and neither the opposition nor the government has shown an interest in doing so. Do we want to reduce water use? So does every other state and territory, not just in Australia but also in the world. We have advisers and innovative technologies within our own territory, if only the government would look for them.
There are many revenue-raising initiatives available if we have the political boldness to embrace them. A holistic approach is needed. I feel we are putting off the big economic questions, as we are putting off the big environmental ones. We are failing to grasp the opportunities offered to show the leadership sorely needed in this country.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The discussion is concluded.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.06): I move: