Page 1913 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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child protection services for indigenous youth and other young people in the ACT. The $700,000 made available in the 2005-06 budget for the unit tasked to address this serious social issue to consolidate and expand is a step in the right direction towards providing support for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their carers, as well as case management support for young people at risk of abuse and neglect.

In closing, only time will tell how the Stanhope government will dig itself out of the deplorable situation into which it has plunged every one of us—a massive $91 million debt. It is going to be a big ship to turn around. This budget from a government that promised so much to the Canberra community is very disappointing in many aspects.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.28): Mr Speaker, the only ideas in this budget are deluded ones. It is a budget offering no real hope to the people of the ACT. The budget demonstrates the rather skewed priorities of the Stanhope government and its delusions of grandeur and grandstanding at the expense of sensible policy development.

Even the most casual observer of ACT affairs will have observed in this budget that its rationalisation of the need for toughness—for which one should read large deficits, cuts to services and hikes in rates, taxes and charges—is passing strange as we are hardly out of the door of economic prosperity, of huge windfall gains from stamp duty and GST. Indeed, well over $600 million extra has come into the kitty over the last three years in real terms. Where has it all gone?

The man or woman in the street is likely to conclude that there has been grave mismanagement if the Stanhope government is already talking about having to budget for a downturn. What has happened to those considerable windfalls that have been received? They certainly have not been matched by peerless service in the ACT, witness problems in the health system and other areas.

Getting down to tintacks, let’s consider some of the ways in which the budget will impact on some of the areas for which I have portfolio responsibility for the opposition. Firstly, the justice system. The creation of the Human Rights Commission really sums up what this Stanhope administration is all about. It sounds good in theory, but it is just a load of wind. It is all about creating a new layer of bureaucracy. It will have a top-heavy administration, with the president of the commission overseeing a number of commissioners including, it seems, a couple of new ones. It is all about an idea—in fact, a deluded idea. It is going to cost, I think, an extra $1.2 million over the next four years. I think that it is a case of watching this space, as the cost will escalate.

The Chief Minister likes firsts. He likes having the first human rights act in Australia. He wants to make his mark on history. This commission will deliver nothing to the ACT except another bloated bureaucracy. It means that there will be another Tonkinesque position and five senior executive service positions. As I indicated, it will cost $1.29 million over the next four years to establish. You can be sure that that will be just the tip of the iceberg. As a member of the legal profession said to me only a couple of days ago, what this new series of positions means is five more executive cars being driven home every night.

We of the opposition do not have any problems with the need for special commissioners, such as new positions for the Commissioner for Disability Services and the

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