This Budget invests in our economy at a time when it is needed most. A major part of our investment is our infrastructure program, amounting to a record $2.5 billion over the next four years. In addition to that, we have initiatives dedicated to stimulating business worth close to $70 million. In 2014–15, we will spend around $325 million on activities to manage our economy and facilitate growth.
Investing in transformative infrastructure
The 2014–15 Budget invests a record $2.5 billion in infrastructure over the next four years.
This will create jobs when they are needed most and stimulate economic growth to help lessen the impact of recent Commonwealth Budget cuts. It will also see us well prepared to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges of Canberra's second century.
The University of Canberra Public Hospital will provide care to sub-acute patients, (such as day services and rehabilitation). The construction of the new hospital will boost jobs.
When it is operational, the hospital will add services for our growing population. Located on the UC campus, the hospital will also provide training and research opportunities. The UC is already predicting that the hospital will be a magnet for other health providers and institutions wishing to take advantage of co-location and collaboration.
A new Secure Mental Health Unit to be built at Symonston will ensure appropriate accommodation for people with severe mental illness.
A multi-story car park at Calvary Hospital will ease congestion on that site, enabling people easier access to the hospital for services and for visiting. It will also enable continued expansion of facilities at Calvary.
And the broader Health Infrastructure Program, which began in 2008-09, continues redevelopment at both the Canberra Hospital and Calvary to add more beds.
Our investment in new and current health infrastructure projects over the next four years will total $250 million. This does not include funding for the UCPH, which is not disclosed at this time due to commercial considerations.
Transforming our city
Developing Canberra's City Centre is one of the Government's major priorities, incorporating landmark projects such as Capital Metro, the City Plan and City to the Lake, the Australia Forum and redevelopment of the ACT Court Facilities. These are large, multi-year projects and this Budget continues the investment begun in prior budgets.
- A further $21.3 million will go to the development of Capital Metro.
- We will begin the design of arterial roads for the City to the Lake project. Total investment to date for City to the Lake works will rise to almost $7 million.
- We have put aside funding to progress the Australia Forum—a new national convention centre—to 'investment-ready' stage. This will be a new convention centre of a size and standard worthy of a nation's capital, that will bring economic activity to our city.
- Our Court Facilities need to grow to meet the size of our city. They will be redeveloped through a Public Private Partnership, with works financed, built and maintained by a private partner. This Budget provides funding for the design and the development of this procurement model — a first for Canberra.
- We are investing $20 million worth of improvements along the Civic to Gungahlin corridor.
Sophisticated procurement — The Capital Framework and the Partnerships Framework
In the last 12 months, we have introduced major reforms to the way we partner with business to build our infrastructure and deliver some of our services. The introduction of The Capital Framework in October 2013, and The Partnerships Framework in December 2013, has brought our procurement models up to date with national and international best practice.
The Capital Framework is leading improved risk allocation between the public and private sector, with better value-for-money outcomes in the design and construction of major infrastructure.
The Partnerships Framework has given the ACT the capacity to move into the world of sophisticated methods of procurement, including Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and Design Construct Maintain Operate (DCMO). These forms of procurement can secure whole of life benefits for government and business; making the most of the innovation that business can bring to design, construction, operations, and financing under a measurable performance driven contractual model.
Investing in Transformative Infrastructure
- The 2014–15 Budget includes $2.5 billion over four years for infrastructure and capital projects
- The Government's Infrastructure and Capital Program will generate thousands of jobs each year
- $250 million will be spent on health infrastructure projects over the next four years
Investing in digital canberra
This Budget recognises the importance of the digital age and the opportunities this creates for the government to better interact with our community. The initiatives in this Budget will make it easier and cheaper to do business with government, and continue to open up our public services. They will also help grow our economy and diversify our economic base.
In this Budget, our investment in new, transformational ICT projects will be $75 million over the next four years, building on the $25 million investment progressing from last year's Budget.
The ACT Government will have a strong focus on a whole of government effort to deliver this digital investment, driven by the Digital Canberra strategy.
Building on the strong digital foundations of Canberra, in partnership with industry and the community, the Government has developed and released a Digital Canberra Action Plan. Digital Canberra sets out Canberra's digital aspirations and the principles and actions that will guide us to become a leading digital city.
This Budget has a number of initiatives aimed at making it easier for citizens and business to interact with government.
This Budget commences funding for iConnect, which will transform and simplify the way individuals and business interact with the Government. When fully developed, iConnect will give access to many government services and payment transactions through a single sign on.
We are transforming revenue collection and automating invoicing. These initiatives will make payments to and from Government faster, easier and more secure. We are also introducing electronic tendering. This will modernise processes for businesses seeking to work with the Government and reduce the administrative burden on small business.
There will be further investment in Smart Parking, replacing nearly 1,000 on-street parking meters in our major town centres with 150 solar powered machines that can take credit cards.
And we will be upgrading many of our internal government ICT systems to yield further efficiencies.
This Budget also takes the digital investment to our schools. Our Smart Schools initiative will upgrade school ICT infrastructure and expand wireless access points.
Investing in Digital canberraIn 2014–15:
- Over 84% of all Canberra Connect transactions will be done online
- $75 million over four years will go to ICT projects and programs as part of the infrastructure and capital program
- The largest free public wi-fi program in Australia will be launched, starting with free wi-fi in Civic and a trial on ACTION buses
Investing in the economy
The Government knows a strong economy requires a strong business sector. This Budget invests in growing local businesses and in bringing business to Canberra as a part of our priority to grow the economy.
Businesses in Canberra continue to benefit from our tax reform agenda. Stamp duty continues to come down and insurance taxes will be fully abolished in 2016.
We have also raised the threshold for payroll tax, meaning businesses will pay less, with around 40 businesses removed from the system altogether.
Combined with the 2012 payroll tax cuts, this means each Canberra business, on average, is paying $25,000 less payroll tax annually than before the reforms.
Growing local businesses
We want to help those affected by Commonwealth Government job cuts to stay in Canberra and build new futures. This Budget includes a specially tailored initiative to help ex-government employees to start their own businesses here in Canberra.
The CBR Innovation Network will also receive extra funding to help start up businesses; and we will help young entrepreneurs through our Young Business Connect program.
Gungahlin is also set to receive a significant boost in this Budget from the establishment of an ACT Government office and Canberra Connect shopfront. Due to open in 2015, it will house over 600 workers and include a childcare facility. This Budget provides for fit-out and relocation expenses of $18.5 million.
Bringing business to Canberra
This Budget provides continuing support for Brand Canberra – our city brand. CBR Canberra provides an opportunity for us to change the way we talk about our city, how we promote our city and how we attract business, tourism and investment to Canberra. It gives us the tools to communicate the brilliant possibilities in our city and to build confidence in our community and our economy at a time when it is sorely needed.
We are also investing in tourism, with a program of promotions supporting the Tourism 2020 strategy. The Cooperative Airline Stimulus Fund will support cooperative marketing campaigns targeted at the New Zealand and Singapore markets.
The National Arboretum Canberra also receives a boost with funding of $2.8 million to finalise the Event Terrace and Precinct Facilities and for the maintenance of existing infrastructure. This is one of the most successful facilities developed in Canberra in the recent past. A phoenix born of the 2001 and 2003 bushfires, it has become a landmark and a major tourist attraction.
More will be added to direct business services including Invest Canberra, providing help for businesses wanting to invest in Canberra to navigate the necessary regulatory infrastructure to do so.
Additional funding will support major events, to bring visitors to our city and to showcase Canberra nationally and internationally. Highlights include $2.3 million for the International Cricket World Cup.
The importance of local events is also not forgotten, with $300,000 in this Budget for Canberra Day; and funding for both an upgrade of the Canberra Theatre Centre and a feasibility study for a new theatre.
Reducing red tape
The Government recognises the burden government regulation imposes on business and community organisations. This Budget brings red tape reduction to the fore, with specific actions right across government.
During 2014–15, we will set up a new forum to give business a direct voice in regulatory reform prioritisation and we will also be reviewing the Building Act. In an effort to reduce the burden on our community organisations, we will be amending the Food Act to reduce regulations for selling food in certain circumstances; and reviewing various forms of regulation affecting community organisations that deliver services for the Government.
We will also be making our own internal operations of government work more efficiently, by reducing red tape both between, and within, government directorates. This will allow more resources to be dedicated to front-line services.