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30 Liberal pledges shape an alternative to Barr

Jeremy Hanson… “The Canberra Liberals have made more than 30 commitments since the last election.”

“There is still over a year to go before the next election and the Liberals are beginning to position themselves as a sensible alternative government,” writes political columnist MICHAEL MOORE.

 OVER a quarter of a century is simply too long for any political party to be in power. If Labor is elected again in October next year it will mean 27 years of being continuously in government. 

Michael Moore.

But what’s the alternative in the ACT?

What do the Liberals really stand for? Have they lost their ultra-conservative stripes? What sort of government would they really deliver? Any possibility of teal style independents forming a government in the ACT is remote.

Acting Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson said: “People argue they have no idea what the Liberals stand for. This is not true. The Canberra Liberals have made more than 30 commitments since the last election.”

The most significant is about the light rail. The Liberals are committed to halting the expansion of light rail prior to stage 2B. Halting the light rail will give a Liberal government enough money to effectively budget for the promises they have made. 

The commitments include establishing a royal commission into health, increasing the powers of the Integrity Commission, through to reversing the drugs bill and reviewing sentencing and bail.

As with all parties, there will be some policies that voters agree with and some that they oppose. In some cases, there will be a single policy (or perhaps multiple ones) that are so intolerable the party in question will never receive your vote.

However, along with the tram, addressing the health system in Canberra remains a fundamental question of contention for many voters.

The July leaflet “Our CBR” (letterboxed to all Canberrans) is the government’s sales job on its budget. Overwhelmingly, the leaflet waxes lyrical about capital expenditure in the healthcare system. Even before the mandatory takeover of Calvary Public Hospital, the Canberra Liberals had called for a royal commission into our healthcare system.

How can a system that was leading Australia in waiting times in both the emergency department and in elective surgery, have moved from amongst the best performers to amongst the worst since Labor came to power? Why is it amongst the worst performers? These are questions that have not been answered to any satisfactory extent and which a royal commission can be expected to address.

Instead, the government pursues more big-ticket items and long-term expenditure in buildings by committing a billion dollars to a new northside hospital and expanding the current Canberra Hospital. Additionally, the budget committed to “the roll out of four health centres delivering community based services in South Tuggeranong, West Belconnen, Inner South and North Gungahlin”.

Spending money on capital works does not attack the root cause of the problems with the health system in the ACT. An effective, seriously independent inquiry is way overdue. On health, the Liberals have also committed to establishing a gynaecology oncology unit, contracting private providers to reduce the extensive colonoscopy wait lists and waive the increase in payroll tax for general practitioners.

The Liberals have committed to taking on planning issues in the ACT. It is hard to believe that they will do worse than the current government run by Labor and the Greens. There are a range of policies commencing with a promise of more transparency and effective consultation. In practical terms, building a Molonglo town centre and police station and reversing the transfer of money from buses to the trams. They agree to keep the Canberra City Stadium on the table.

Of concern to environmentalists will be the policies of the Canberra Liberals that promise to reverse ending the gas supply and will keep the city open for petrol cars and the sale of new ones. However, they will take a new approach to improving Canberra’s lakes and waterways.

In housing there is a commitment to release more land for housing including that land currently held by CSIRO. They will launch a feasibility study into West Tuggeranong for housing and establish a specific minister with responsibility for housing affordability. There will be an easing of tax and regulation on rental properties.

There is still over a year to go before the next election and the Liberals are beginning to position themselves as a sensible alternative government. However, there will be many who are yet to be convinced that they provide a better alternative than Labor and the Greens.

Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health. He has been a political columnist with “CityNews” since 2006.

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6 Responses to 30 Liberal pledges shape an alternative to Barr

Hamba says: 19 July 2023 at 10:02 am

A newly elected government knows it has to genuinely perform and respond to concerns or face defeat in four years. A government that is returned despite its many documented failures knows it can continue to fail without consequence, increasing its arrogance and disregard for residents’ concerns. At this point — policies aside — that will be the primary difference between a new Liberal government vs the re-election of a Labor/Greens coalition government. There is almost no logical scenario in which the Liberals could end up being worse (despite this being Barr’s and Rattenbury’s last line of defence).

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Bruce says: 19 July 2023 at 4:15 pm

It’s a real shame the conservative liberals in the ACT have a few intolerable (as the article puts it) policies that means they will never get my vote. They are small ones that will keep them in the wilderness. Why cant they become just a little more progressive with their policies on electric vehicles and drug reform.

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Carolyne Drew says: 20 July 2023 at 3:33 pm

What the Liberals will do – ensure we can never have a right to assisted dying in the ACT, stop the tram – of course (maybe even rip up the tram track from Civic to Gungahlin and sell the trams), take more buses off the road (they LOVE do this), increase exponentially the price of a bus ride (they LOVE doing this), have an enquiry into the health system here and do nothing about it (except maybe make more nurses redundant and blame Labor and the Greens for everything), privatize the ACT Public Service like their big brothers in the Federal arena did, get rid of more green space (yes, they will do that far more than this current government has done), make more money for investors by easing tax regulation on rentals and allow them to increase the price of rentals 100% with no justification, get rid of laws that assist renters and stop unjustified evictions, they will come up with legislation that allows them to evict ACT Housing renters (they’ve done this before they’ll do it again), build a bigger prison and put more people in jail who will come out more more ‘professionally competent’ at criminal activities, provide more transparency by saying less and consulting less, they will improve Canberra’s lakes and waterways by putting more entertainment on them. I’m sure there is more they will do, of yes give their Liberal buddies lots of public money!

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Ben says: 20 July 2023 at 10:16 pm

A vote for Labor effectively endorses their failures across a range of services. With the worst health system in Australia, an education system that has gone rapidly downhill, a budget deficit in the billions, land rates that have exploded and a growing homeless issue across the territory why should they be allowed to continue to govern? They’ve lost the ability to care and deliver services for all Canberrans and for that they need to be punished.

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Jonathan Pearson says: 21 July 2023 at 4:50 pm

Tyrants really exist. Check history. Power corrupts. Corruption is widespread now – unless the liberals stand up against corruption – then they are just buying votes (with our money) another way

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Ian Pearson says: 22 July 2023 at 11:32 am

On one hand ACT Greens/Labor have held the reins of government for so long that they think they are royalty, completely detached from the electorate, able to say or do whatever works for them on the day. On the other hand, the Liberals retain links to former members, including Zed Seselja, who are toxic to the electorate, as most recently evidenced by the loss (without prospect of early return) of the Libs sole seat in Federal parliament. (Seselja and Morrison effectively spat in the eye of ACT electors with their refusal to accept the ACT’s right for self determination on VAD, and the electorate responded accordingly.) Retaining links to such people, and their associated baggage is election cyanide for the Libs. At the 2024 election the Libs probably have the best chance of forming government in the ACT that they have had in a couple of decades. However, to have any chance of success they need to decide whether they wish to be seen as relevant by enough voters to get them over the line, or whether they just wish to appeal to a vanishingly small group who would vote for them, no matter what. God know, we need a change for the better!

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