Budget Address-in-Reply


**Check against delivery**

Just over 100 days ago, Canberrans entrusted this government with one last chance to make things right.

Canberrans believed them when they promised to fix the health system.

Canberrans believed them when they promised to freeze rates for a year.

And Canberrans believed them when they promised to make our schools safe from hazardous material.

Madam Speaker, just one hundred days in and all this government has to show is broken promise after broken promise; declining services and more of the same that we have seen over the last 20 years:

  • Record waiting times and a toxic culture of bullying in our hospitals;
  • Presence of hazardous materials in our schools;
  • Skyrocketing rates impacting the most vulnerable Canberra families hardest, including 60,000 Canberrans who were stung this year despite the Chief Minister’s promises;
  • Not enough support for our small and family businesses;
  • Complete lack of action on housing affordability;
  • Massive delays on major infrastructure projects and key public services; and
  • a government happy to rack up a over 3 Billion Dollars on the credit card before the pandemic.
  • Canberrans deserve better.

    And it seems, Madam Speaker, that this Budget does not deliver better.

    This Budget embeds 20 years of under-resourcing the health system.

    This Budget embeds the years of neglect of our tired and hazardous school infrastructure.

    And this Budget embeds the same old thinking from this government of charging Canberrans more and delivering less.

    My Team and I will hold this government to account for the promises they made to the people of Canberra.

    And as the alternate government we will advocate for real and practical solutions to improve the lives of Canberrans.

    Because I – and we – want to make Canberra not just the capital in name, but the capital in heart.

    As a young Korean girl who migrated to Australia in 1986, I remember seeing the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, on TV and my parents telling me, “that’s Canberra; the place where important decisions for our country are made.”

    As a first year university student moving away from home for the first time in 1998, I remember the rocky road of starting a life in Canberra and falling in love with this big country town.

    I have been here ever since.

    To me, Canberra isn’t just a city.

    To me, Canberra isn’t just a community.

    To me, Canberra is a place of hope; a place where a young migrant girl could realise her dreams.

    But this isn’t just my story.

    It’s the story of thousands of Canberrans.

    But Canberra is being held back.

    And Canberrans are being held back.

    Canberrans who no longer see this place as the city where they can achieve their dreams.

    The Canberra of today is a city which sees a real risk of becoming a two-tiered society with some of our most vulnerable being left behind and forgotten.

    And it is clear from the Treasurer’s budget this week that there is no appetite, no leadership and no vision from this government to do anything about it.

    Whilst the rhetoric is repeated ad nauseum, action – or at times, inaction – speaks louder than words. The record of outcomes in Canberra under this government speaks volumes.

    This, Madam Speaker, is not the way to govern.

    This, Madam Speaker, is not a government that has the best interests of its people at the centre.

    And this, Madam Speaker, is not what I want for the Canberra of the future.

    As the great Robert Menzies said about Canberra:

    This is a matter of national importance, because more and more as people understand that this is the capital of the nation, a capital of which they may be proud, then more and more will they begin to realise instinctively that the nation is more important than any part of it and that the nation is symbolised by the capital of the nation in this place. In other words, this I think is doing a great deal to create a genuine national spirit…

    The Canberra that holds the hopes and dreams for my daughter and her generation is one that is befitting of this spirit.

    A place with a world class health system where trainee doctors and nurses and health professionals from all over the world want to come and train.

    where we are providing the pinnacle of health care to our citizens and leading the world in medical developments that puts people at the centre.

    not a health system with a world-renowned record for bullying but a health system where our medical professionals are respected and valued.

    A place with a world class education system where we nurture, mould and educate the next generation for a future that we know they can make better and brighter – and a world class higher education system which allows our young people to pursue higher studies or training in whatever it is they choose – whether it be research in cyber security or a trade in clean energy technology. Not an education system where we can’t even guarantee no hazardous material.

    A place with a world class public transport system where those who need it most are able to get from A to B without the worries of time, cost and safety. A public transport system that brings together the newest technology to combine all modes of travel to provide the most efficient, clean and secure public transport network in the world. Not a public transport system that leaves school children stranded at bus stops and interchanges to and from home.

    A place with a world class tourism sector where we can showcase to the world the city that is befitting of the nation’s capital.

    Our natural beauty and the history and culture of our proud Indigenous heritage as well as being the mecca of new and exciting innovations in science, technology, business and the arts.

    A place that is a world class design capital that draws on the best in the world in preserving the best of our natural environment whilst investing in a strong infrastructure program to develop and create a city for the future.

    And at each step, never forgetting that we put people at the centre.

    A place that is a world class small business capital; a city where our smartest, most innovative businesspeople think: “that’s where I want to do business” because we back them; we respect them; we value them and celebrate innovation and new ideas; not stifle them with unnecessary red tape.

    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.

    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.

    We are at risk of creating a city that is split into the haves and have nots.

    Where some people are able to afford to live here and others are not.

    Where some people have access to all the benefits and the best this city has to offer, others do not.

    Where some people feel secure in their skin here and others do not.

    Madam Speaker, Canberra is an extraordinary city and Canberrans are an extraordinary people.

    And they deserve extraordinary leaders.

    Canberra must be the capital in name and the capital in heart.

    I put myself forward for election for the ACT Legislative Assembly, giving up my career in the law, because the hope that I had; the aspirations that I had; the dreams that I had – are slipping away for thousands of Canberrans.

    Because it is Mary of O’Connor and Lisa of Narrabundah that are counting on me. Because it is Geoff of Hackett and Elizabeth of Griffith and Gay of Ainslie that are counting on me.

    The very forgotten Canberrans that I referred to in my inaugural speech that I will always remember.

    I will not let them down.

    And on this side of the chamber, we will not die wondering what could have been.

    Every fibre of my being for the next four years will be devoted to fighting for those that are being left behind by this government.

    As an Opposition that is our role; our duty; and our commitment.

    As the alternate government, my team and I will actively present fresh perspectives and new ideas on behalf of our community and in particular, those who feel they have been abandoned by this government.

    And I take this opportunity to put to the Chief Minister and the Leader of the ACT Greens right now:

    Levels of poverty, homelessness and the working poor have skyrocketed. After 20 years in office, obviously your approach is not working.

    Let us deal with this once and for all. Let us deal with this together.

    See it for what it is; the good it is; and the need it is.

    Let’s make the Poverty Taskforce a tri-partisan reality.

    Something so needed to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community get the vital support and services they need.

    The election is done. Do not dismiss this call as a mere political stunt.

    Let’s work together to make sure that the 38,000 Canberrans including 8,000 children from low-income households have the respect and dignity of leaders that will take an evidence-based, tri-partisan approach to addressing the systemic and root causes of poverty across the Territory and take action so that each and every Canberran has the right to a fulfilling and full life.

    Similarly, removing hazardous materials from our schools should not be as difficult as this government has made it.

    How can we even begin on the track to have the best education outcomes in Australia when we cannot even guarantee that our students can be safe in our schools from exposure to hazardous materials?

    This has gone on long enough.

    Will you support my call today of a commitment that by the end of this semester, every school in Canberra is a safe learning environment to give our parents peace of mind; our teachers and school staff a safe place to work; and our children the best possible start in life?

    Surely, this is something that we, as a society, should be able to provide for our next generation, as a matter of course?

    See it for what it is; the good it is; and the need it is.

    Let us deal with this once and for all. Let us deal with this together.

    Let’s make the eradication of hazardous materials from all Canberra schools a tri-partisan reality.

    And, as I stand here putting forward these initiatives; I will not stand in the way of good, evidenced-based, well planned and genuinely consulted initiatives brought by you that are in the best interests of our community.

    I note the Health Minister’s commitment to get hospital waiting times under control within 9 months. My team and I stand ready to work with you to achieve this long overdue outcome.

    For our city. For our people.

    I note this Budget allows $14million for the PACER Program; an initiative I wholeheartedly endorse and support. There is ample evidence that this program works and that Canberrans who need this type of mental health support benefit enormously from it. My team and I welcome the funding for the expansion of this program.

    For our city. For our people.

    We have found so much common ground in tackling climate change here in the ACT, and I am very proud of the Canberra Liberals’ strong commitment to preserving our environment.

    It was a Canberra Liberals government that was the first State or Territory government in Australia to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol.

    As Shadow Minister for the Environment, I was proud to support efforts to reduce our emissions and lead the way in innovative ways to generate renewables.

    And it’s time to go beyond targets and work with industry and our higher education institutions to embark on the next part of our journey on climate action.

    As a former lecturer at both the ANU and UC, I had the privilege to see and work with some of the world’s best scientists and engineers at work right here in Canberra.

    Canberra can be a genuine leader in developing world leading solutions, led by science and technology.

    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.

    For our city. For our people.

    Madam Speaker, the ongoing pandemic was a threat that no one could have predicted, and we stood along-side this government, and governments across Australia, in helping to protect our community.

    I note this Budget commits $20million for the vaccine roll out; whilst we are of course mindful that it is not a silver bullet, Canberrans pin a lot of hope on the successful roll out of the vaccine to get us back to a semblance of life pre-Covid.

    My team and I welcome the commitment of this government to this roll out.

    The pandemic has shown the power of working together and I acknowledge the Chief Minister’s willingness to work with the Canberra Liberals, and with the federal Liberal government in the best interests of Canberrans in response to the pandemic.

    I ask the Chief Minister to continue to work with us in the same vein to protect lives and livelihoods of all Canberrans.

    The pandemic goes above politics and we are all committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of all Canberrans.

    For our city. For our people.

    Madam Speaker, I stand here today not with criticisms and opposition for opposition sake but with a willingness, a preparedness, a commitment to work with the Government to fix problems.

    To make our city a better place for all Canberrans.

    A city where dreams can be realised.

    The only barrier to getting these things done is the partisanship and ego that this government is renowned for.

    My message to Canberrans is this:

    If you believe in making Canberra more affordable so that everyone can get ahead, we are for you.

    If you believe in having world class, nation-leading health, education and transport systems, we are for you.

    If you believe in taking local and practical action to protect our environment and reducing emissions, we are for you.

    If you believe in giving our small businesses a fair go to build, create, innovate and make dreams a reality, we are here for you.

    If you believe in leaders who will invest in long-term infrastructure for a city befitting of the national capital for our future generations, we are here for you.

    Just as Canberra has been the place of hope for me, I give this humble commitment:

    as a young Korean girl who saw Canberra as “the place where important decisions are made”;

    as a young uni student who has had the privilege of every opportunity I could have dreamed of;

    And now as a mother and leader in the community, I will do everything I can to make sure that Canberra shines bright as the place of hope for future generations.

    Canberra as the place where dreams are realised.

    Canberra as the capital not only in name but in heart.