Adjournment Speech - Budget and Canberra

I rise this evening to talk about the impact of the Abbott government's budget cuts on the electorate of Fraser. It is my sad duty to inform the House that, since the election of the Abbott government, on many occasions my constituents have found themselves deeply disappointed by broken promises that have hit their communities.

The Gungahlin Jets is a local organisation that had received budgeted funding under the Building Multicultural Communities Program. The Gungahlin Jets were receiving a grant that would have helped improve security at the club house—but, unfortunately, that funding was ripped away, with the Jets being burgled in subsequent weeks. We do not know whether or not the grant, which included funds for a security door and security cameras, would have prevented the threat, but we certainly know that that funding was taken away. Senator Zed Seselja incorrectly told the people of Canberra:

They promised something they didn't have the money for. They didn't allocate the money for it.

He is either deliberately misleading the people of Canberra or is unable to read the budget papers which allocated the money and this government's MYEFO document which ripped it away. Joe Cortese, the chairman of the Gungahlin Jets, said of Senator Seselja:

Bit disappointed … We thought … The fresh senator in the ACT would take an interest. He did say to the people out here that he wanted to help the people of Gungahlin. Well I haven't even received an email or a phone call from him besides before Christmas.

The Women's Legal Centre in the ACT does vital work in looking after vulnerable women in the ACT, including victims of domestic violence. A cut to the budget of the Women's Legal Centre—which is likely to have to wear some of the pain inflicted on community legal centres—would, by that centre's estimate, reduce the amount of work that the centre did by about one full-time person's workload. That means 535 advice activities and 30 cases currently supervised and managed on an annual basis. Solicitors in the Women's Legal Centre, like many other legal centres around the nation, also supervise work done by outside pro bono lawyers who volunteer their services to the centre. That work would go as well if these cuts are to take effect.

Vital work at the ANU is being done on cutting-edge research. It was my pleasure recently to attend the launch of the heavy ion accelerator facility endowment with Professor Stephen Buckman, the director of the Research School of Physics and Engineering; Mahananda Dasgupta; Keith Fifield; Alastair Muirhead; Mick Cardew-Hall; and Andrew Roberts. These researchers, as with many other researchers at the Australian National University, are deeply concerned that the government's cuts to higher education will adversely impact them.

As Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has noted: 'The Commonwealth has torn up the agreement made with every state and territory under national health reforms.' 'The funding guarantee is gone, which will penalise the ACT because of our smaller scale and higher costs.' Indexation will fall and the funding 'appears not to recognise the 25 per cent of health services the ACT provides to the people of NSW', such as people who will be injured on the ski fields over this winter who will receive treatment at Canberra Hospital. As Chief Minister Gallagher notes:

Unfortunately, the Commonwealth stripping funding from health won't make the costs go away. People will still arrive at the emergency department, they will still require operations, cancer treatment and renal dialysis. This decision simply shifts the burden to the states and territories.

Ms Gallagher goes on to note that the abandonment of the school funding agreement will mean that it is not possible to fund schools at the previous level.

The worst blow to the electorate of Fraser is the government's broken promise to cut no more than 12,000 public servants. The loss of 16½ thousand Public Service jobs will hurt the public sector and the private sector in the ACT. We have a Treasurer who, before the election, joked about the fact that the election of a Liberal government would drive down house prices in Canberra. I am all for housing affordability, but getting it via unemployment and bankruptcy is a dumb way of achieving the goal. This budget is going to hurt Canberra and hurt Canberrans, and I will fight for the people of this great city.


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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au