Page 1905 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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I would like to make a quick point about disability funding for non-government schools. In my maiden speech I spoke about the need for equitable funding arrangements across the government and non-government sectors, and Mr Mulcahy has already raised the issue of the broken election promise. I attended meetings with Mr Mulcahy where the government talked about its commitment to disability, whether a student is in a government school or a non-government school. What we have seen, I suspect, is the first of many broken promises in the education sector in this term. It is particularly disappointing that, under this government, students with disabilities in non-government schools will continue to be treated as second class citizens.

I am sure that my colleagues yet to speak on this subject and others will highlight other areas of concern within the budget. A litany of problems has been raised so far and I am sure that many more will be found during the estimates committee hearings as ministers have to justify some of the possibly rubbery figures that appear in the budget papers. I look forward to that estimates process and really digging deeper into this. The Liberal Party will continue to hold this government to account to highlight inefficiency, waste and blowouts in costs and when we take government in 2008 we will fix the legacy that this government will leave us.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.58) I rise today to speak to the Treasurer’s tabling of the 2005-06 ACT government budget. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his reply to the budget and the shadow Treasurer for his delivery of a very sound counterattack to the budget.

It is obvious that things are tight in the government’s coffers, as the huge $90 million deficit shows. However, it seems that, while there are areas of strong community need that should have been funded, the government has overlooked these and instead has seen fit to allocate large amounts of funding to a raft of initiatives that one would think, in such a tight budgetary predicament, would have been held over so that those more essential items could have been funded.

Alas this is not the case. This is a plunger budget, a budget that has seen funding cut from essential areas in order to fund a raft of non-essential ideological and so-called visionary projects that the Stanhope government has hitched its wagon to. This is a budget that robs Peter to pay Paul, except that Paul is getting less than Paul was robbed of and poor financial management is skimming off the rest.

I will refer specifically to areas in my shadow portfolios, as well as matters that are causes for concern for the people in my electorate of Brindabella. Firstly, I am pleased to see that, in Brindabella, funding of about $1.5 million has now been allocated for the construction of the child and family centre in Tuggeranong. This project has been delayed for long enough. During the debate on last year’s budget I remember saying that I was pleased that this facility had been announced and was due for completion in June 2006. However, here we are again in the 2005-06 budget being told that completion of this centre will be in June 2007, a 12-month delay so typical of this government.

I am extremely disappointed that there is no funding allocated in next year’s budget for some sort of supportive funding, some encouragement incentive, anything at all for a medical facility in the Lanyon Valley, something that is most desperately needed with

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