Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 1050 ..
reduction in funding into the future. Under the new arrangements, the industry has certainty and stable funding, growing by CPI, into the future.
When it comes to budgets, good governments have to make choices. They simply have to. Some in this place might be surprised to learn that the government only has a certain amount of money. The budget is not a magic pudding and, as such, it is the hallmark of good government to take reasoned decisions about the best ways to invest the limited funds for the benefit of all citizens. Effectively, through this motion, Mr Smyth and the Liberals are clearly indicating that they would prefer that the racing industry is provided with an extra $6 million over the next four years. I wonder if these are the same millions of dollars that the Liberals promised the residents of Harrison, or are they the same millions that the Liberals promised the residents of Flynn and Cook when they were playing politics with education?
Those opposite pretend to be economic managers. They come in here time after time to lecture the government about how to manage the budget. They advocate sacking nurses, police officers, firefighters and other public servants to bring the budget into surplus sooner. For the supporters of Work Choices, that is always the first option.
We are very familiar with Mr Smyth’s refrain, “Where’s the plan? Where’s the strategy?” when it comes to managing the budget. But these are excellent questions, questions the Liberals must answer. This government, quite rightly, in the face of Liberal opposition, has invested in the jobs of Canberrans throughout the global financial crisis. As a result, our economy remains strong and Canberrans remain in work. This government has a plan to restore the budget, a plan to maintain government services and a strategy to keep the economy strong. But that plan involves making hard choices, something the Liberals have shown time and time again—certainly ever since I have been a member in this place—that they simply do not have the stomach for.
There are choices about how much budget funding to provide to various sport and recreation activities. There are many choices even within those narrow portfolio areas, and all of this needs to be considered in the context of how much to invest in other core government services, such as health and education, or other areas of the territory economy, such as tourism. Choices are about getting the balance right, and this government has always sought to do that. Of course, it is politically easy to have the shadow treasurer promise extra funding to one interest group, one industry or another. It is a whole other thing for the Liberals to say where they are going to deliver that funding from should they ever form government.
As for the future, the government will continue to work in good faith with the racing industry. We have done so over many months to help the industry face the future with certainty. I have met with the industry; the Chief Minister has met with the industry; various members of our staff and officials from a number of ACT government agencies have met with the industry on many occasions, here in the Assembly and out at Thoroughbred Park. This is how we have arrived at the current funding model—in consultation with industry.
I recognise that, at this point in time, the industry are not 100 per cent happy with the level of that funding offer. They are not 100 per cent happy, but, then again, it is a