This Budget invests in Canberra
It is part of the Government's continuing plan to build and transform our city for a prosperous and sustainable second century. This budget tackles new challenges and creates new opportunities, and builds on so much that the Government has already put in place to make Canberra a better place to live, work and do business.
The ACT Government puts sound economic management at the forefront of our responsibilities. We ran surpluses when the economy was at its strongest, to be able to provide for the times when the circumstances were more challenging.
Those challenging times are now.
Massive cuts in general Commonwealth Government spending, and in payments to the ACT, will cause job losses and challenging economic circumstances for us. We have decided in this Budget to invest in our economy and jobs rather than add to the challenges at this difficult time.
Investing in Canberra to support the economy and jobs means that the budget will be in deficit for the next two years. Our plan is to return the budget to balance over the forward estimates. To get there, we will be prudent in our spending and make sure that services are delivered as efficiently as possible, but we will not undertake cuts and impose further pain on our community. We will not risk the growth of our economy or the standard of living of our community for a budget bottom line.
In this way, we will continue to invest in our vision for Canberra becoming a reality, while supporting government services and economic activity. In this Budget, we again invest in the four areas that underpin our vision:
Making Canberra healthy and smart
Growing the economy
Enhancing liveability and opportunity
Investing in urban renewal.
Healthy and Smart
This Budget continues our investment in health and education. Half of our annual expenditure funds world class hospitals, health centres, schools, child care centres and other educational institutions.
Our vision is for a health system that delivers quality care to those who need it. A system that can grow with the needs of our population; and that is founded on highly trained health professionals, state of the art technology and quality infrastructure.
The Commonwealth Government's abandonment of the National Health Reform Agreement has cut $248 million from what we expected to receive for our hospitals over the next four years. In this Budget we have chosen not to pass on this Commonwealth cut and send our hospitals into chaos. We have instead met the funding gap left by the Commonwealth by increasing our budget deficit. We believe Canberrans should not suffer inferior health services because the Commonwealth Government has abandoned its responsibilities to our community. We will continue to campaign for the restoration of our share of the national growth in public hospital funding.
The Government believes in the importance of quality education as a foundation for future success in life. This Budget continues our investment in providing quality education for all students no matter where they live or their financial circumstances.
Growing the Economy
Our vision is for a strong and diverse economy; one that provides jobs, attracts investment and underpins the wellbeing of our community.
A strong economy is fundamental to everything we want to achieve. The Government has pursued a strategy to build Canberra's economic resilience and diversify our economic base and we have been successful. Over the last decade, we have seen employment grow by an average of almost 10 jobs a day and our economy is placed better than ever to deal with the contraction in Commonwealth Government spending.
And in this Budget, our investment in the economy is more important than ever.
This Budget delivers programs and projects that will help the ACT economy through this difficult time.
We are boosting our infrastructure program. Major projects such as the University of Canberra Public Hospital, a new school at Coombs, Capital Metro, the Civic to Gungahlin Corridor, the Australia Forum, City to the Lake, an expanded prison, and numerous road projects are funded in this Budget.
We are also fostering local industries, including ICT, tourism, and higher education for both national and international students. And we have some important new initiatives to help Canberra residents who have lost their jobs from the Commonwealth Government, to stay here and build a new future.
This Budget invests in our built environment like never before. This investment provides essential infrastructure that will serve us now and into the future and also support economic growth and jobs.
The Government is committed to building and transforming Canberra and this Budget continues our investment in this vision.
We are funding a wide range of projects across Canberra to improve our urban areas.
We have continued to promote active transport, for our health and for our environment. We are also creating vibrant urban areas that lend themselves to new business opportunities, new ways of working, socialising and relaxing.
Importantly, we are also investing in our natural environment.
Liveability and Opportunity
Canberra has been named the most liveable city in Australia1 and we want to ensure our community continues to have a high standard of living.
Our vision is for a vibrant city, a caring community and place where people of all ages have every opportunity for success in life.
This Budget invests in our quality of life. It invests in our community, in supporting our most vulnerable people and in providing Canberrans with opportunities to prosper.
Part of this vision is ensuring Canberrans feel safe and secure. In this Budget, we are boosting resourcing of our emergency services; investing in preventive justice measures and improving essential justice infrastructure, including expanding the prison.1 My City : The People's Verdict, annual survey by Property Council of Australia, March 2014.