Page 1885 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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that was the Canberra plan, a shallow document to start with, and now completely vacant. The contrasts between the Labor Party and the Liberal Party could not be more definite than they are at present.

We will develop new and alternative industries. We will expand existing industries. We will move away from the dependence on a single stream of income. We will ensure good management and a return to the people of the ACT rather than further imposts. And we will work in surpluses. It is my pledge that our policies and programs will provide the ACT with a positive future, in contrast to the failures of this government.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.38): Firstly, I wish to say that I am very pleased today to be able to give some comment from a Greens perspective on the 2005-06 budget. I also want to note that I am looking forward to greater consideration of the budget via the estimates processes later this month and then via the debate on the appropriation bill in June. This budget needs scrutiny so that we can assess its real impact.

Of course for me it is a learning experience too. The budget goes to the guts of what a government is on about and we need to test the rhetoric of election promises against the reality of the figures. My comments will be critical but I intend them to be constructive. I will also give brownie points where they are deserved. Let me begin my statement with some general comments on the budget and then comment on some of the specific budget measures.

In summary, the Greens view the budget as a mixed bag. It is safe and cautious but it lacks vision. A tough budget can still be environmentally friendly and socially just. We are not opposed to a deficit per se as a short-term outcome, so long as the deficit can be funded over the term of the government. In some areas it is clear that the government is focused on feasibility studies and investigations, rather than actually getting on with doing things, and in other areas the government is going full steam ahead without stopping to look at these studies. Some significant election promises have been broken. It appears that there is a tendency to allocate money to symptoms rather than dealing with causes. And the main new revenue raising mechanism, rates, is potentially socially regressive.

I have some general comments on the budget. The ACT Greens have assessed and will continue to assess this budget using our four key principles that we are committed to. The first is ecological wisdom: recognising that the earth sustains all life forms and that whatever we do to the web of life we do to ourselves. The second is social justice: finding the worldwide growth of poverty and injustice unacceptable and working for a world in which all can fulfil their potential regardless of their age, sex, race, citizenship or sexual preference. The third is participatory democracy: believing in direct participation by all citizens in the environmental, political and economic decisions that affect their lives. The fourth is peace and non-violence. The Greens reject violence as a way of settling disputes; it is short-sighted, morally wrong, and ultimately self-defeating. The Greens encourage tolerance, understanding and peaceful conflict resolution. Let me say here that I think that an assembly of 17 people is so small that some of the adversarial politics that go on here just look plain ridiculous.

A Greens budget would promote an economy that furthers these aims. The Canberra Times editorial of yesterday was headed “Muddling along without vision”. I tend to

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