“Everything on the table”: Liberals seek to carve a new path forward

Dominic Giannini 12 February 2021 16
Elizabeth Lee

Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee has delivered her reply to the ACT Budget. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Canberra Liberals have put all their policies on the table for review as the party looks to start the year with a clean slate.

Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee implored the government to work with the Canberra Liberals and avoid partisanship in the interests of Canberrans as the party continues to push for a task force to address poverty in the ACT.

“The election is over, do not dismiss it as a political stunt,” she said.

“There are absolutely some principles and values that we strongly and firmly continue to hold on to, and these are things like making sure that our most vulnerable Canberrans are not left behind.

“It is making sure that we are not at risk of creating a two-tiered society.”

Ms Lee did not use her budget reply on Thursday (11 February) to announce any new policies but instead used her speech to focus on Canberra’s affordability and called on the government to make the city a world leader in science and technology.

“Canberra can be a genuine leader in developing world-leading solutions,” she said.

“We have an enormous capacity right here in our great city. We have some of the brightest minds and the most passionate hearts to truly make a difference.

“Let’s work together to reach a sensible and sustainable solution to reducing our emissions and developing clean energy technologies. Solutions that will not penalise those Canberrans who can least afford it.”


READ ALSO: ACT Budget: What the ACT Budget means for your rates


Channelling Bob Hawke’s proposition that Canberra is “the place where important decisions for our country are made”, Ms Lee said that Canberra is more than just a city and a community.

“[Canberra is] a place that is a world-class people capital. A city that not only invests in and values physical infrastructure and services but in our greatest asset, our people,” she said.

“A city where everyone, no matter what their situation or position in life, feels welcome and at home.

“A city where no one is judged on the way they look or sound but on their innate character and ability to contribute to our community.”

Elizabeth Lee budget reply speech

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee gave her budget reply speech on Thursday, 11 February. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

But still reeling from an election defeat that saw the Liberals reduced to just nine MLAs, and the recent announcement that former leader Alistair Coe will leave the Assembly in early March, the party now has the challenge of carving out a new look that appeals to the Canberra electorate.

While this includes holding the government to account in areas like housing, social equality and healthcare, it also includes working with the government and putting politics aside during the pandemic, Ms Lee said.

It is in no one’s best interest to be obstructive for the sake of obstruction, she said.


READ ALSO: Meet Elizabeth Lee, the Liberals’ new hope to end a quarter-century in opposition


“Being in opposition is difficult. You need to find balance because it is our job, our duty and our commitment to hold the government to account where they need to be. But it is also about working together in the best interests of Canberrans.

“There is no doubt that with a new leadership team, the Canberra public will take a second look and say ‘hey, they look different, are they going to be different? and if so, how?’

“We know that we have what it takes to be in Opposition, trust me, we have been in there enough,” she laughed.

“But it is also about showing the Canberra public that we also have what it takes to be the alternative government.”


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16 Responses to “Everything on the table”: Liberals seek to carve a new path forward
dolphin dolphin 7:00 pm 13 Feb 21

why would anyone bother with the libs when the Greens are the only realistic alternative to labor in canberra if you want to address emissions, and tackle
poverty.

Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 2:49 pm 13 Feb 21

Sitting watching this on TV, I was embarrassed for the girl. It was like watching a child demanding something from a group of adults and crying or nearly crying, getting angry when she didnt get her own way. I am sorry but the Liberal party really need to pick up their game if they wish to win over the voters, let alone actually make a difference in this Territory. I know I sound mean hearted when writing this but if this is the impression I got when watching the Liberal leaders performance, then what impression did it have on others?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:18 pm 12 Feb 21

“While this includes holding the government to account in areas like housing, social equality and healthcare….”

It needs to be much more than “holding the government to account” in major areas of policy and service delivery, because without robust, workable alternatives and options for improvement, an opposition party which simply attacks shortcomings and failures of the government will not get very far.

This means serious policy work which isn’t easy, with the limited resources of opposition compared to the government, but with so much relevant information available online, and with electronic communication making contact with policy experts interstate and overseas relatively easy and low-cost, there is no good reason why solid policy ideas cannot be developed by a small opposition party with time on its hands.

The ACT Liberals also need to be much more upfront about any ideas or plans they have for spending cuts, outsourcing etc. If they have such plans, that should be explained in detail and open to debate well before an election. The alternative approach, which we have seen for the last few elections, is to try to tap-dance around the issue which, if anything, probably leads to fears of much worse than what might, in truth, have been in contemplation.

Brisal Brisal 5:06 pm 12 Feb 21

Avoid partisanship? You would have rocks in their head to think the conservatives would offer the same if they were in power.

paulmuster paulmuster 2:04 pm 12 Feb 21

I’m going to miss Coe – he was like a little class captain apointed for goody toe shoes type behaviour, whose popularity declined with every cringeworthy talking point he regurgitated.

‘One million trees’ will go down as the worst attempt at an environmental policy. ‘Better service, lower cost’ will go down at the worst attempt at an economic policy (if you can even call it that) and challenging the ban on gay conversion therapy will go down as the most out of touch attempt at social policy.

From a tripple bottom line standpoint, he really did set the bar low for Lee. I can’t wait to see whether she tries to backtrack or double down. Either way, it’ll be a show!

Rob Long Rob Long 1:05 pm 12 Feb 21

What a joke, liberals hate the poor and blame them for their plight.

    Zakzook Chico Zakzook Chico 3:21 pm 12 Feb 21

    Rob Long, that’s what the left would like us to think. Tell me what labor green done to address poverty and homelessness in the last 20 years. Let’s not talk about health etc...

    William Coats William Coats 6:48 pm 13 Feb 21

    This week the liberals moved a poverty task force and several initiatives to look into the rental affordability crisis. all were voted down by labor and the greens. Labor and the greens have been in power for 20 years, this issues belong to them they own the poverty in the ACT

Colin Mitchell Colin Mitchell 12:07 pm 12 Feb 21

No poverty if you are in the Barr household. Screw everyone else

Michael McDonald Michael McDonald 11:35 am 12 Feb 21

If everything is on the table, does that include abandoning the negative policies and calling out the Federal government for its many failings?

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 11:54 am 12 Feb 21

    Michael McDonald so far it still feels like more of the same. They regularly post up policy announcements of their federal counterparts, then if people complain about them they backpedal saying "that's not a local issue" a lot of affordability issues, especially in the housing market stem directly from policy and legislation the Liberal party openly support. So complaining about affordability, while lauding higher income tax cuts, scrapping of responsible lending laws and maintaining things like 50% cgt concessions, and neg gearing is silly at best, disingenuous at worst.

    Zakzook Chico Zakzook Chico 3:17 pm 12 Feb 21

    Michael McDonald who gets to decide what are the failings? Let’s talk about local gov failing to address poverty and homelessness before we go out with mambo Jambo narratives

    Michael McDonald Michael McDonald 3:34 pm 12 Feb 21

    So, we can't talk about the failings. Except for what you deem as failings?

    Zakzook Chico Zakzook Chico 5:33 pm 12 Feb 21

    Michael McDonald that’s not what I said. We had 20 years of labour and labour/greens governments in the ACT yet they failed to address poverty, homelessness, hospital waiting times, and so on. Hmmm seems to me you’re focusing on one sided story. Don’t you think?

    Michael McDonald Michael McDonald 5:36 pm 12 Feb 21

    Zakzook Chico You just said "Who gets to decide the failings?" Then immediately talked about failings.

    Zakzook Chico Zakzook Chico 6:06 pm 12 Feb 21

    Michael McDonald well you’ve criticised the libs while ignoring the current gov.

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