Looking Forward to a Liberal Government
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
As the much-quoted author Marianne Williamson has written, ‘Every ending is a new beginning’. And so, as this Ninth Assembly has met today for its second-last time, my thoughts have turned to the future. The future is a bright – full of hope and promise.
Every week, I speak with so many Canberrans who, like me, are thinking about the future too. Our hopes are clear: we want to see this city become the best place to live, work and raise a family. Only the Canberra Liberals have a strong plan to make sure that happens. Let me explain briefly:
A Canberra Liberals government will reduce the cost of living for families. Under Labor and the Greens, the combined tax burden in the ACT has become the highest in Australia, putting far too many Canberrans in financial stress. But we will freeze residential rates for four years and deliver rent relief from day one, making it easier for all of us to balance the household budget.
The Canberra Liberals will provide high-quality essential services, including better access to health services. It is a disgrace that emergency departments in the nation’s capital are ranked last in the nation, including in the treatment of mental health patients. And the much-needed expansion to Canberra Hospital, first promised by Labor in 2010, still hasn’t been built. In contrast, we will deliver the modern, world-class health system that our city deserves.
The Canberra Liberals will strengthen the local economy. A thriving business sector is the key to our COVID-19 recovery. But as a recent study found, the ACT is among the least business-friendly jurisdictions in the country. We value businesses and their vital role in creating jobs, so instead of pushing our companies across the border, we will make Canberra the best place in the nation to operate a business.
The Canberra Liberals will improve education standards. As the Grattan Institute revealed last year, the ACT ranks last in Australia when compared with similar communities. School students, parents and teachers deserve better, and we will make sure that our children receive the best education anywhere in the world, including by boosting school maintenance by $15 million.
The Canberra Liberals will fix the current government’s transport bungles. Labor and the Greens have slashed dozens of school buses and have closed bus stops and cancelled services across our suburbs. We will restore dedicated school bus routes and deliver a public transport system that is frequent and reliable seven days per week.
The Canberra Liberals will protect the local environment. The current government has allowed shameful environmental setbacks to our beloved Bush Capital. Newer suburbs are full of concrete but little grass, and Labor and the Greens have overseen a loss of 3,000 trees from our neighbourhoods every year. In just seven years, nearly 11 per cent of our tree canopy was lost. In contrast, only the Canberra Liberals will plant and care for one million trees. And we won’t stop there. We know how important greenspace is for our mental, social and physical wellbeing, so we are issuing a guarantee that all Canberrans, including those in apartments and town centres, are within a 10-minute walk to a properly maintained greenspace.
Finally, the Canberra Liberals will look after the vulnerable and disadvantaged and will treat people with dignity and respect. This commitment includes the recently announced policy that we will introduce a legal entitlement to restorative family group conferences for all families that come into contact with the child protection system. This approach places the family at the centre of decision-making and boldly signals our commitment to be a government that no longer makes important decisions for families but instead makes these decisions with them.
As I said, Madam Speaker, the future is full of hope and promise. I look forward to assisting the Canberra Liberals to achieve this vision of a Canberra that is the best place in Australia to live, work and raise a family. Thank you.