Page 1513 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

What’s that? Didn’t anyone revolt? … In fact, our politicians were more timid than anyone … the government talked about “sustainability” while frantically building roads; chopped down more trees for sustainability press releases than were saved in their national parks. Only when they finally shuffled off did we notice that they hadn’t done anything but line the pockets of the mates-in-industry.

… Meanwhile, the feds simply pretended climate change wasn’t real. Like children under the bed they rejected international agreements and put every freak climate event down to “intelligent design” ….

And yes, people noticed. Sure. Outsiders especially, who came expecting a land of hope and instead found the entire country out to a very long lunch. (As Clive Hamilton once groaned, even as they extracted his thumbnails: “The Howard government still doesn’t get it.”)

Elizabeth Farrelly’s opinion piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald is specifically a critique of planning in New South Wales. I have read an abridged version today as a foreword to some comments on the federal budget, which I see as the equivalent of fiddling while the fire gets ever closer to Rome.

As far as I can see, the federal government’s budget delivers short-term rewards to working families but invests little in the social sphere and forgets about the environment. At a time when research shows that the gap between rich and poor is wider than it has ever been, the federal government has failed to invest in services which would make life better for all of us. An investment in social housing and public dentistry programs, two things that would significantly improve the lives of our poorest people, was glaringly absent.

The $500 million for the Murray-Darling system is welcome, but we must remember that billions of dollars have already been thrown at the Murray-Darling with little to show for it. Politics and lack of commitment are the problem, not money shortages alone. It is unclear how the Murrumbidgee will benefit from that and, without a representative on the Murray-Darling ministerial council, there is little that the ACT can do to increase attention to the river system that we are part of. Indeed, there is a good chance that the $500 million will go in payouts to farmers, perhaps for some of the schemes that Mrs Dunne was suggesting earlier.

Mr Speaker, you would never know that there was a looming oil crisis or that climate change demands action if you listened to the ACT’s local and federal politicians, which I had the pleasure of hearing this morning at the chamber of commerce breakfast. The budget is in denial about these trends and locks us into further dependence on selling non-renewable resources such as uranium. It is a budget which wants people to keep on spending, but it robs our children of the choices that the federal government claims are its responsibility to deliver.

Public housing—funding

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (6.13): I put on the public record a correction of something that Mr Corbell said. Maybe it was just a slip of words but it seems to be a trait that has happened a couple of times this week. It was about public housing and the $30 million

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .