Page 2084 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 June 2015

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We see increased health funding focused on prevention—money well invested in trying to keep people out of the acute health system, and a continued focus on funding for mental health initiatives.

For perhaps the first time in this city we are having a public conversation about the balance between funding for private transport and public transport. What an exciting conversation to be having. While there are those who are vociferous in their opposition to the funding of public transport—and we have just heard from one—we Greens know that any socially just and environmentally responsible society needs governments to invest in public transport, and I am proud to be part of a government that will build light rail and take the public transport in this city to a whole new level.

Canberra is built on public housing, and this budget supports the renewal and hopefully modest growth of the stock. This is a budget that invests in our community for now and for the long term. It is a budget that is taking steps towards meeting our future challenges and transforming the shape and feel of our city, while also delivering the day-to-day services for our suburbs.

This is a budget designed to instil confidence in investors and drive investment in both the fabric of our city and the people of our city. We are a green, sustainable and progressive jurisdiction, and the Greens will continue to progress this kind of investment.

While a Green government would have delivered a different budget, this is a budget that looks after people and the environment, even in the face of further federal government cuts and the impact of Mr Fluffy. This budget addresses the needs of today and invests for the future. There is a significant investment in health, education and infrastructure, while also laying the foundations for a more sustainable future.

There is no doubt that these challenges, which have not just been in this financial year but have occurred over the last few years, have made it exceedingly difficult for the ACT government to track a path towards surplus, but we will aim to achieve it by 2018. I remain confident that the period of deficit will be limited.

Over this and the previous Assembly, the Greens have supported the overall fiscal plan of a gradual return to surplus while maintaining services for the people of Canberra and providing investment into the quality of our city. I know Greens voters also support this. The Greens do not appreciate the slash and burn behaviour of governments who go for austerity. We understand the need for governments to be there for the people.

We, as a government, understand the value of stimulus and strategically spending our way out of debt. This has been a long-term plan of the ACT government, initially to return to surplus by 2016 but, given some key factors such as federal government impacts and Mr Fluffy, now delayed by two years to 2018. I believe that this is still the right plan, and one which will keep Canberra in good stead in times to come.

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