Building a strong economy that continues to grow and create jobs is one of the ACT Government’s highest priorities-and the 2016-17 ACT Budget continues to do just that.
The ACT Government took proactive and targeted action to support economic growth in the Territory during the deep cuts the Commonwealth made to its jobs and spending over the last few years. This strategy has worked and our economy is rebounding. Service exports, retail trade and building approvals are all rising and our unemployment rate is the lowest in the Australia.
The strong economy means our budget position is improving-with a $300 million improvement in the budget and a return to balance in 2017-18 as identified in previous budgets. We are returning to balance not by slashing jobs and services, but by investing in our community and diversifying our economy.
This Budget invests $2.9 billion in a four-year infrastructure program. This will deliver new facilities and services for Canberrans, create jobs and boost activity in our economy. The ACT Government is also supporting the continual diversification of our economy, with a $10.1 million investment over two years to support local business, innovation and investment.
The 2016-17 ACT Budget includes $7.3 million over four years to promote Canberra as a tourism destination in key domestic and international markets. Tourism delivers $1.7 billion in domestic and international overnight visitation expenditure to the ACT economy each year and employs 14,700 Canberrans.
This initiative will support VisitCanberra to promote Canberra as a leisure tourism destination in key domestic and priority international markets through its One Good Thing After Another campaign. It also supports direct international flights to Canberra through the development and implementation of co-operative marketing campaigns with Singapore Airlines that target both consumer and trade partners in priority markets. This will hold us in good stead for the commencement of direct international flights in September.
This Budget also continues the ACT Government’s tax reform agenda, to make the Territory’s taxation system fairer, simpler and more efficient. Insurance tax will be abolished from 1 July 2016 and payroll tax has been cut-with the threshold rising from $1.85 million to $2 million in this Budget. Stamp duty will also be cut in this year’s Budget, delivering on our promise to reduce this highly inefficient tax. The buyer of a $500,000 home will save $7,040 in stamp duty compared to before tax reform began in 2012.
The 2016-17 ACT Budget is a budget for an even better Canberra. The Budget delivers more services today and in coming years and builds on our plan to secure a better future for Canberra.
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)