Page 2254 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 June 2013

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balanced over the economic cycle. That means we should not never have a deficit. At the same time we also need to not always be in deficit; we need to have surpluses to either pay back previous deficits or have the money to pay for the infrastructure that we want. I think that the budget has set us on that pathway of the fiscal balance that we need, and I support that overall direction of the budget. I think it is quite important, and is the right direction for the ACT to be going in.

The Treasurer has in part said that we need this to be able to fund the infrastructure that we are moving towards. That is the second important thing for me. We are seeing in this budget a commitment to significant investments for the future of this city, investments that will shape Canberra to be a more sustainable city into the future, bringing a level of change and new urban amenity, new initiatives that I think the community will really thank us for down the line.

Of course, I particularly refer to two issues of interest to me that arise from the parliamentary agreement. One is the commitment to move forward on light rail, the capital metro system. What we see in the budget is investment that will get that process underway. We are well past the stage of discussing whether Canberra will get light rail. We are now in a process of implementing rolling that light rail out for this city, and I think that is a very positive phase.

With the establishment of the capital metro authority and the resources to go with that, we will now have the staff on the ground who will be planning the implementation of that public transport system that will really make a difference to the future of this city when it comes to both seeing a level of urban renewal and also providing a public transport system that tackles key issues of climate change and oil depletion and actually helps to give us a transport system that is not polluting the planet, that is not simply driving congestion and reliance on oil reserves that are predicted to decline in the future. We are moving to an electricity-based transport system that offers future Canberrans, and indeed the current generations, the opportunity to have a different mode of transport and a more convenient city where you do not simply have to drive everywhere, where there is an alternative to needing a private vehicle, with the substantial costs that go with that.

The second point that I particularly want to touch on is the funding of the common ground initiative. This is an initiative that seeks to break the cycle of homelessness for some of the most disadvantaged in our community. It is a very significant initiative, one that is widely recognised in the community as offering a real breakthrough in delivering a different model for ending homelessness. By providing a stable basis of accommodation, and assertive services to go with that accommodation, it really offers people who have, for a range of reasons, found themselves either homeless or at risk of being homeless in a situation where they can stabilise their lives and rebuild their futures with that stable accommodation as a basis. I am very pleased that initiative is moving forward in the budget.

There is a range of other matters, but in this context I thought I would simply touch on two of the key highlights I see in the budget and the broad direction. I look forward to participating in the extensive debates that are yet to come through the formal Assembly processes around the budget, and I commend my amendments to the Assembly.

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