Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1632 ..
of the government not taking a step back to see the big picture and the inter-relationship between issues. Disadvantage, addiction, mental illness, social exclusion, and often homelessness are not separate issues and they need a holistic approach from government to create solutions. While the budget initiatives are well intentioned, funding each section with little consideration for how it fits into the whole will do little in the long term to help those suffering from multiple areas of disadvantage.
An improved budget for justice and corrections is welcome, but questions remain as to just whom and how the services will be delivered. In the case of $4.1 million for health services to the Alexander Maconochie Centre, will these all be government provided, or will community health organisations be involved? For several years, the community sector has been calling on the ACT government to negotiate the manner and funding for services that community organisations will deliver to the prison population. Much of this still remains unknown, despite the prison opening in just months.
Deb Wyborn of the Corrections Coalition stated yesterday that, while the $1.5 million for post-release supported accommodation is welcome, it is not nearly enough to support these people at such a critical stage of re-establishing them in the community and avoiding recidivism. Add to this, current housing affordability problems and tightness in subservices and $1.5 million seems very small. I would be keen to find out just how many ex-detainees this money will support and what the unexpected unmet need will be.
It is much easier to see the budget clearly from the cross bench than from the front bench. My criticisms are delivered with the intention of being constructive, and I hope to see their reflection in next year’s budget.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.17): I am pleased to speak on the budget today and I compliment the previous speakers on their contributions, although obviously I do not agree with all of their particular perspectives.
I find the budget that we now have before the Assembly one that does not particularly thrill me, for reasons that to some extent I have enunciated in the past. I would genuinely prefer to be speaking today under better circumstances. I would prefer to be able to come into the Assembly and speak about my excitement and satisfaction with the budget. However, that is simply not the case.
This budget confirms that the government has wasted an opportunity to reform the ACT taxation system. It is the final nail in the coffin for tax reform in this term of government. The budget continues the government’s policy of high taxation and high spending and its obstinacy in the face of calls for tax relief. The headline of the Canberra Times on Wednesday morning—and this is a paper that often does not get it right—said it all: “spend spend spend”. On this occasion it did get it right.
In this budget the ACT government has continued to spend without limitations as it pursues its big government agenda. The ACT Labor government does stand in stark contrast to its federal Labor government colleagues who were recently elected on a