Page 3052 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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This is a budget with a plan that will return our net operating balance to surplus by 2015-16, a plan that is well articulated and demonstrates our commitment to working with the community. And this is a budget that makes unprecedented investments in the territory’s infrastructure, in our roads, our health system, our parks and open spaces, our community centres, our environment and our education system—record capital investment to support jobs and increase the productive capacity of our economy in the longer term.

The government is pleased that Mr Tony Harris, the independent expert commissioned by the Select Committee on Estimates to review the 2009-10 budget, has recognised and endorsed the strength of the territory’s financial position, the adequacy and transparency of financial information and the context in which this budget was formulated, the integrity of the budget estimates and the government’s record of financial discipline.

Most importantly, Mr Harris, through his analysis and advice, provided a golden opportunity for the estimates committee to engage in meaningful and thoughtful discussion on the strategic, financial and economic issues facing the territory. However, as we know now, the committee failed that test of leadership and instead opted for political opportunism.

We are committed to return the budget to surplus by 2015-16; we are committed to taking the time to consult with the community and with our workforce; and we are committed to a meaningful dialogue over the coming months. Our plan does include some tough decisions. We will need to find prudent savings and identify further opportunities to become more efficient in the way government uses its resources. We will do this in a responsible and well-thought-out manner. We will implement the first tranche of these efficiencies as part of the 2010-11 budget.

The 2009-10 budget is right for the time. It puts the community first by not only maintaining our important services but by making substantial investments in those services and our essential infrastructure. The budget looks to the future and clearly states the government’s intention of returning to surplus.

This government has a proven track record of strong financial management and leadership. You only have to read some of Mr Harris’s reports to the estimates committee to see that. We have shown that we can take the tough decisions in the broader interests of the community, and you only have to read the 2009 budget to see that.

I thank members for their comments and, in the interests of time, I will leave my comments there.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.8—Home Loan Portfolio—nil.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (8.13): The home loan portfolio is, of course, a hold-over from the commonwealth days when funds were forwarded to folks so that they could

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