Page 1610 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Canberrans are ready for the future. Those opposite are yet to tell the people of the ACT how they will tackle the skills crisis. The Leader of the Opposition and the shadow minister for education and training have the opportunity in about one minute to reveal a single policy to respond to the skills crisis. (Time expired.)

It being 3.00 pm, questions were interrupted pursuant to the order of the Assembly.

Appropriation Bill 2008-2009

Debate resumed from 6 May 2008, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3:00): The budget of the ACT is more than numbers. It is more than promises, graphs and charts. The budget is a document that has the power to change lives and fundamentally alter the city in which we live. It is the vehicle for change and a tool which can deliver visionary reforms and practical solutions. The budget is also a test. It is a litmus test measuring how much a government is in touch with the community, how imaginative it is and how committed it is to see through demanding reforms that will help our city thrive and prosper into the future.

Whilst the Labor Party may profess a commitment to affordable housing, to world-class education, to a well-resourced and managed health system and a commitment to securing our future, as always actions speak louder than words. The truth of the matter, as illustrated in seven long years, is that they are in fact mainly interested in their own future. They have failed in critical areas and simply ignored others. The community has been subjected to a budget cycle of extremes. From year to year, and even month to month, the story changes. One minute we are in dire straits; the next we are rolling in cash. One minute we must tighten the belt; the next we must spend, spend, spend—all the while pushing through an agenda of self-preservation.

I do not believe in opposition for opposition’s sake. I believe my duty, in a budget context, is to closely examine the strength of the budget proposals, to highlight policy shortcomings, to hold the government accountable for how it implements its agenda, to support positive initiatives and to put forward my own clear alternative vision to the community.

The opposition are pleased with several inclusions in this budget. We are pleased to see significant investment in a women’s and children’s facility at Canberra Hospital. Of course, we will be ascertaining through estimates hearings how much of this is just a replacement of the existing wards and how much is actually new capacity. Investment in health facilities in Gungahlin, extra money for non-government schools and for students with disabilities is all very welcome.

We welcome the investment in the roads surrounding the airport. This is the fifth budget in which they have promised the work, so we are watching closely to make sure that it does not get dropped again or rolled over again. We welcome the funding

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