In response to today’s budget we’ve had the following commentary:
1. The Greens’ Meredith Hunter is reasonably pleased:
- “This Budget is a sign that with a strong Greens presence in the Legislative Assembly, the people of the ACT can expect a more sustainable Canberra – socially, economically and environmentally” Meredith Hunter said today.
“The budget incorporates many initiatives that we know the people of Canberra will welcome. They include the reopening of a library in the inner south, mental health training for teachers and emergency service the introduction of bus rapid transit, the expansion of Canberra’s urban wetlands, and a comprehensive program to improve home water and energy efficiency in our homes.”
“At a broader level, however, it is still not clear how this Government imagines we will work our way back from deficit. At its heart this is really a business as usual budget, rather than a vision for our times.”
2. The University of Canberra’s NowUC notes the emphasis on health and education:
- The ACT Government Budget brought down today will deliver on central election promises in health and education. Health and education account for 51 percent of the Budget.
3. The ABC reports that Zed Seselja is strangely calling for even bigger deficits to be run up:
- Mr Seselja says there is not enough spending to stimulate the economy and that the job of getting the ACT out of deficit will eventually fall to the taxpayer.
4. Four statements from the Liberals.
a) The first complains about a lack of vision: It taxes car drivers, bus users and, worst of all, foreshadows job cuts in the future. But it won’t say how or when or what. “It’s a plan for a decade of deficits with no plan on how to get the budget into surplus.. But there’s no enthusiasm for raising parking fees: “Katy Gallagher and ACT Labor have delivered a slap in the face to working families across Canberra. “This budget will slug all workers in Canberra with an increase of 20 per cent on ticketed parking machines and a 20 per cent and a 50 per cent increase for metered machines.
b) The second contains a Brendan Smyth clanger: “Business is another industry to suffer from this budget” (how many non-business industries are there?). Demands more money for tourism which is Brendan’s default position, and calls for less pesky regulation of the building industry.
c) The third has Jeremy Hanson’s displeasure at efficiency dividends in the Health Department, concern about the scrapping of the Ngunnawal Genealogy Project, and unhappiness about costs at the Prison for less facilities than promised. Steve Dozspot also lines up his ducks calling for more disabilities funding to cope with the ageing population, and would like to see class sizes brought down to the now magical number 21.
d) The fourth sees Vicki Dunne question if the Department of Public Prosecutions will be able to keep its new staff. Brendan Smyth wants a new Emergency Services Agency headquarters.
5. Green Amanda Bresnan is demanding improvements to the bus system to justify the raise in fares:
- “Bus fares going up over time is an unfortunate reality that we accept, but we are committed to seeing that this translates into much improved services.” Ms Bresnan said today.
“A successful rapid bus trial, for example, will offer a way to really re-shape and modernise Canberra’s transport system, and we saw that in yesterday’s budget.”
“We are also keen to see a new Smartcard ticketing system, that will speed up services in the short term and, more importantly, give us the data we need for more responsive and efficient planning.”
In addition to the 11% rise in bus fares, the budget includes a 20% rise in parking fees.
“The overall decision to catch the bus to work is still an attractive one, taking into account parking, fuel and car maintenance costs.”
6. Emboldened by the Liberal’s failure to land a punch in reply to her budget Katy Gallagher has come out swinging:
- “The Liberals seem to be saying they don’t support new spending, they want no price increases, no job losses, lower taxes, and no impact on the health or education budgets but they want a smaller deficit now. How exactly does the Opposition propose to achieve this? Through a few fewer reams of stationery?”
“The Opposition is obviously experiencing an ideas deficit because they remain committed to their old, tired plans. They continue to harp on about their pre-election savings plan when the world has changed dramatically since then. They also fail to mention that the savings they identified were to offset their excessive election commitments – savings that would have seen disabled workers sacked and nursing staff removed from the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Far from presenting an alternative vision for the times, they’re stuck in the past and still dreaming about what could have been.”