Page 780 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013

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Katy Gallagher responded to those comments, saying, “The targets that we set in the election campaign were the targets that Greens had also set, so in that sense, being a green, progressive government is a badge that we would wear with some pride.”

Madam Speaker, I am not making an assessment today necessarily on the relevant merit or lack of merit of the ideological position being put forward by the Greens and the Labor Party, but I want to make an assessment of the cost and the priorities. Can ACT residents afford to have the most green, the most progressive government in the country, even if they wanted to?

I ask this because basic government services are failing. While the government has been busy implementing their green and progressive policies, what we have seen is Canberrans waiting longer than anybody else in the country in the emergency department, with those figures declining. We have been waiting longer for elective surgery for years.

House prices are some of the most expensive in the country. It takes 10 years to build a key piece of road infrastructure for the fastest growing area in the ACT, and so on and so on. The opposition has had much to say about the decline in basic services in this jurisdiction.

We are paying more and more to the government. The 2012-13 budget showed that the average Canberra household is now paying over $9,000 a year to the government. This is already the highest taxing government in the country, with a deteriorating budget. The deficit in 2012-13 is $363 million. The 2012-13 budget review saw the deficit across the forward estimates worsened by another $82 million.

The review also showed that borrowings just this year alone have increased by $100 million to a total of $2.7 billion this year. This is on top of the more than $1 billion in ACT Labor Treasury-costed election policies. That $1 billion does not include the cost of the Greens-Labor parliamentary agreement. It does not include things like the Canberra university hospital, estimated at about $340 million. That does not appear anywhere in the budget.

The government is prioritising expenditure on progressive green policies rather than essential public infrastructure, like health infrastructure. The government’s own policy document on health infrastructure states that progressing the University of Canberra public hospital including exploring delivery models is a priority, but when will we see some serious money committed to that project?

Given all the pressures on our budget—our deficits, debts and unfunded projects—I repeat: can we afford to be the greenest, most progressive government in Australia, even if we wanted to, which I would contend most people in Canberra would not?

I turn now to some of those policies as examples, and this is by no means the full extent. The 40 per cent emission target is going to be the subject of some debate later today. It is eight times higher than the national target of five per cent. Sixty-three per cent of ACT emissions come from electricity and 22 per cent from transport. So what

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