Page 765 - Week 02 - Thursday, 12 February 2009

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opportunity to comment on actions in areas of known priority to the Canberra community—protecting our economy and Canberra’s most vulnerable from the global economic downturn, delivering on urgent election commitments, and getting on with the job of building a better city and a stronger community.

One matter of unswerving priority for the government, upon taking office, was to deliver on its pledge to inject $3.5 million into the welfare and volunteer sector, to boost resources for emergency relief for Canberrans doing it tough, and to support the valuable work of carers and volunteers. It was the subject of a special appropriation bill in December, and the money started to flow before Christmas, as promised.

One of our first acts on resuming office was to convene a number of emergency roundtables with industry and other ACT groups. Subsequent roundtables have been convened on the specific areas of tourism, construction, procurement and training and, indeed, on the broader economy. Among the direct actions to flow from those roundtables have been a $100,000 “shop local” campaign, jointly funded with Canberra CBD over the festive season—

Mr Seselja: Was the Treasurer invited to that?

MR STANHOPE: Well, she convened two of them—$450,000 for a domestic short-stay tourism campaign; the establishment of a dedicated industry monitoring group to work with the government to identify ways to remove construction bottlenecks; a commitment that all undisputed ACT government invoices will be paid within 30 days; and the design of a new business assistance program to help local companies adapt to tough times.

In the midst of this extraordinary activity, the government has been delivering on the priorities Canberrans tell us are important—health, education, the creation of a solar capital, and municipal services. We have opened the $45 million Kingsford Smith school—although not the oval; the inspection that Mr Doszpot has done of the barbed wire fence—in west Belconnen, and four dedicated early childhood schools at which young Canberrans are now getting a record 15 hours of preschooling each week. We have given $2 million to parent associations to spend on the things they believe are important. We have called for earthworks tenders for the Gungahlin college. We have begun to roll out solar panels to all of our government schools.

In the area of health, we have started work on three new operating theatres, opened another step-up step-down mental health facility in the suburbs, opened a satellite breast-screening clinic, and put 83 ACT Health workers into allied health training programs.

Of course, we have done much more than that. The government has delivered a 24-hour, seven-day policing service to the people of Gungahlin. We have rescued the much-loved RSPCA from financial strife. We have released extra building blocks for affordable housing and begun work on a mortgage relief scheme that will save Canberra families at risk. We have fast-tracked the introduction of the feed-in tariff and embarked on a process that I hope will see the construction of a solar power plant that will power many thousands of Canberra homes.

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