Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 November 2007) . . Page.. 3214 ..
responds creatively and flexibly to emerging pressures on its world-class health system. It is a city that holds out hope and help to those experiencing disadvantage.
The possibility of the government tabling a second appropriation bill was foreshadowed even at the time of this year’s budget, the timing of which cut across a number of significant activities. One was the finalisation of the climate change strategy. Another was the multi-stranded investigation into crucial aspects of the ACTION bus network.
Many of the announcements that make up today’s appropriation go to the heart of these two critical issues confronting our community: how to lighten our collective impact on this fragile land at a time of changing climate, and how to design an effective public transport system for a city in love with the motor car. But today’s bill goes further, and it does so without jeopardising our solid and comfortable budget surplus—a surplus that we have striven to maintain as a means of shielding this community against unexpected shocks and risks.
We have been able to make the investments that make up this second appropriation, and to do so without jeopardising that surplus, because since the delivery of the 2007-08 budget additional capacity for strategic investment has emerged. As members would recall, the territory is expected to receive $13 million in additional GST revenue, due to an increase in the population estimates for the ACT. These estimates did not emerge in time to be factored into the ACT’s budget processes.
More recently, the release of the Australian government mid-year economic and fiscal outlook has forecast a further $7.1 million in GST revenue for 2007-08, due to an increase in the overall size of the GST pool. The government had no knowledge of this additional revenue at the time the 2007-08 appropriations were made. In addition, a robust housing sector had delivered unexpected conveyancing revenue, as reflected in the results for the 2006-07 financial year.
This additional revenue has given the government some capacity to make some strategic and clever investments in priority areas, and I welcome the opposition’s generally positive reception of these initiatives, which we have been telling the community about over the past week or so.
The initiatives to which the government formally commits resources today are ones that go to the very core of Labor’s philosophy—ones that signal what is precious and important about our community and our communal life. Go through the list, Mr Speaker, and you will see that this is not about winding back the stringencies and efficiencies we imposed on ourselves last year. It does not herald a restoration of the bad old ways and the bad old days, when expenditure and revenue never quite balanced, and when we hid that fact behind our accounting system. We did not endure the necessary pain of those efficiencies only to squander the dividend. We didn’t, and we won’t. Rather, these investments build on the work begun last year. They are about directing resources where they will have maximum impact, in areas that are fundamental to the quality of life of all who call Canberra home.
Climate change is the most significant challenge to confront us as a community. It is a challenge each one of us must take responsibility for tackling in our private lives, as