Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2144 ..
In final comment, there are some aspects of the financial decisions in this budget which are very welcomed. I prefer to see money invested in capital infrastructure rather than on recurrent spending on pet projects or non-core services. This is a welcome aspect of the budget. Unfortunately, there are several other financial decisions which I do believe are somewhat foolish. The several budget initiatives I have highlighted, as well as the government’s devotion to corporate welfare, must be examples of this wasteful approach.
It is inappropriate for the government to dramatically increase expenditure on non-core services, on one hand, and then argue that they cannot afford tax relief, on the other. And the lack of tax relief and serious attempts at making tax reform and handing back to the people of Canberra the impulse that was introduced a couple of years ago on the basis that the territory was desperately in need of those extra funds, I think, are lamentable. It is the single biggest disappointment I have in this budget and I am disappointed that it has not occupied a greater part of either the estimates report or the dissenting report.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (9.00): I would like to draw attention to the significance of this budget and its highlights. I must say they have of course been ignored by every contributor to this debate so far in relation to Treasury. The essential budget highlights are a little too attractive. It is interesting that, in the debate, not a single member of the Assembly yet has touched on the fact that this budget contains a billion dollars of infrastructure and the additional $400 million.
Mr Mulcahy: I just said that was the best bit of it.
MR STANHOPE: You did, but you did not go actually to the commitment that this government expresses through this budget to those essential issues that the people of Canberra have asked this government to invest in. We have responded closely through this budget to what it is that the people of Canberra want of a government and not what they want of this government. They wanted a government that produces a strong balance sheet, a strong budget, sustainable surpluses and a capacity for an unprecedented investment in the territory’s future through the Building the Future infrastructure investment program.
Building the Future will provide $5 million over the next five years which, along with the annual capital works program, provides for a total capital investment through this budget of $1½ billion. The five-year, $1 billion Building the Future program provides for $300 million in establishing a health system for the future—and that is only the first tranche, the first tranche of a billion dollars proposed by this government over the next 10 years—and $250 million to be invested directly in the territory’s transport system, in direct response to what it is that the people of this territory want: a major investment in public transport in roads. We provided $250 million specifically for that, over and above our normal capital works provision for transport, and $100 million of additional funds over and above the normal capital works program for improving urban amenity.