Page 881 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013

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A number of other projects were tied to particular land release requirements that are still awaiting commonwealth approvals, so we will of course make adjustments to our land release program. As I indicated in the public accounts hearing, we will have to make six-monthly adjustments, depending on the state of the market and which particular areas of supply we wish to bring forward. But we will have in the coming four years more options in that regard.

The decisions we take will be in keeping with the government’s strong fiscal objectives which are: a measured response to changing economic and fiscal circumstances, to provide flexibility for adjustments should circumstances change, to ensure that we are not harming the economy and community by undertaking knee-jerk ideological responses to particular circumstances, and to ensure that we respond to the growth in a need for services, particularly in health and education. By looking closely at the budget we will ensure that the territory is well placed to meet our future challenges.

Our desire to return to surplus is not for the sake of returning to surplus; it ensures that the government has the capacity to fund the significant and necessary future infrastructure projects, such as the north side hospital and light rail, and that we can continue to sustainably provide high quality services and invest in the disability sector and in education. It gives the territory the capacity and flexibility to respond to the changing circumstances in the local, national and global economies.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.34): The Greens will support the amendment put forward by Mr Barr. In looking at both Mr Smyth’s original motion and the amendment put forward by Mr Barr, the “noting” sections of both are essentially the same. They are both factual statements centred on the budget and related papers. You could probably choose some different ones, but I do not think that is the key issue in the motion.

I certainly agree that it is important that the Assembly is aware of the budget position, and there are certainly a range of significant challenges that need to be addressed. We have a significant deficit, and there will be significant challenges in turning that around. We have a difficult job to return the budget to an operating surplus whilst at the same time deliver vital reforms and new infrastructure for the people of Canberra. This is something the government needs to continue to do as the city grows and as our infrastructure ages. We are certainly at a point in many places where it is time for that upgrade.

Earlier today we had a discussion about costings, and Mr Seselja made some observations about, “It is fine to have your policies costed, but if you can’t afford them, there’s no point,” and I completely agree with him. The good news is the Greens not only had our policies costed but we also took a clear commitment to the election of having a balanced budget over the economic cycle. We were very explicit about that, and we remain committed to that. As part of my partnership with the Labor Party, I have a clear commitment to the intended return to surplus that is outlined in the budget papers.

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