Page 1620 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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My commitment on infrastructure planning will cost $5.2 million over four years but will involve a huge change to the way infrastructure is costed and prioritised. We will not see stuff-ups like a single-lane GDE or a prison that is the second most expensive per bed in the country with my new approach. This prudent spending of $5.2 million will inevitably save the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars in the future.

Where our policies have been very generous, there are natural offsets. My stamp duty policy will create a significant stimulus for housing and land sales in the ACT. This is borne out by a BIS Shrapnel study commissioned by the Property Council of Australia, which explores the potential economic impact of abolishing stamp duty in New South Wales. BIS Shrapnel found that revenue forgone is mostly balanced out by revenues from additional new dwellings stimulated by stamp duty abolition. The modelling shows that rollback of stamp duty will generate higher GST receipts and payroll tax. In the case of the ACT, I expect significant offsets from increased land sales and rates as potential new home buyers settle in the ACT in preference to Queanbeyan, Jerrabomberra and other satellite towns.

At the beginning of this address, I cited the power of the budget to change the future of our city. Previous budgets of this government have missed this opportunity. There is no doubting the level of prosperity that Canberra has had in recent times. We have been insistent on infrastructure investment to shore up our future. We welcome the late change of heart by the government to do that, but there is no doubting the missed opportunity.

As many in the community have already articulated, I ask: can these promises be delivered by a government that has failed to do so in the past? Can these commitments be honoured? Why does the government refuse to give tax relief to first home buyers? Our city is in desperate need of energetic leadership at a time of challenge. We stand ready to provide that leadership. Over the coming weeks and months we will continue the process already started of clearly showing the community the differences in policy and, dare I say, attitude towards Canberra.

Our plans will help attract investment and inspire confidence in our local economy and assist us in navigating the turmoil that may well lie ahead. The Chief Minister has glibly dubbed his budget “ready for the future”. As we have seen from today’s paper, the future Labor is interested in is its own. My focus will be Canberra; my focus will be meeting the needs of Canberrans.

My vision is for all Canberrans to have the opportunity to reach their potential. I see a city with the best health system in the world. I see a city where young people can afford to buy a home. I see a city where all children are supported in receiving a world-class education. I see our young people having the choice to stay in Canberra and have the opportunities created in a diverse and thriving economy.

The time has come to focus on the priorities of the community. I love Canberra, and I know what it can be. We will focus on the people. We will deliver. We have the hope, the energy and the vision to make Canberra all it can be.

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