Page 3645 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 September 2018

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They are things that really impact all of us. But because they impact all of us so intimately every day, this is an area that has been very contested in respect of where government should put its priorities. I am sure that every MLA here has had numerous representations from constituents who want this piece of city services—whether it is a pothole, a streetlight or a better playground—in this bit of the neighbourhood to be better.

This is the bread and butter of our democracy. It is really good that we have now another way of looking at how we can work out the priorities, because city services are all about prioritisation among the different areas. I think there is probably universal agreement that, were there to be a magic pudding and we had all the resources we wanted, we would do everything.

But unless we increase rates hugely more than we are, that is not one of our options. So what we have to do is make choices. This is why last year we had a motion that I introduced, and that was passed by the Assembly, to have a participatory budgeting process that would focus on the discretionary elements of the TCCS budget, which we thought was probably around 20 per cent of it.

I am very pleased that this will be the first step towards a process that, for the forthcoming budget, will lead to a better alignment with the budget priorities and the priorities of the people of Canberra. That is what we are here for, to make a Canberra that works for the people who live here. It is really important to have better consultation, better engagement with the people of Canberra, than we have had in the past. Hopefully, better engagement will also be a way to lead to less conflict. When people can see that a decision on funding this rather than that was made for reasons that they have signed on to, hopefully that will be a more positive way of determining government priorities.

I have only one small negative comment on the process so far. With the other two deliberative democracy processes the ACT government has gone through—I have been an observer for part of all three of them—the participants’ report was publicly released as soon as it was finished. In this case it has taken about a month and the observers were not allowed to be present when the report was presented. I am not sure why. I assume that the report is as presented. There has clearly been a bit of graphical work done on it, but I assume that apart from that it is identical to what was put out on the day.

I will now talk briefly about the priorities in the statement. Obviously, I have only seen the statement this morning. When I heard that the minister was presenting it today I looked on the website and found that it was there, which is great. I think one of the really positive things when looking at this statement is that the community has recognised that there are limited budgets and that there will need to be prioritisation. Through their better suburbs statement, there has been some prioritisation of expenditure. I think it is incredibly useful for government to get it right with limited resources. Positively, from a Greens’ point of view, the items that the better suburbs statement puts at the top are also things that the Greens have felt are really important.

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