Statement by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr:
Work on Stage 2 of our city-wide light rail network is one of a number of election commitments delivered in the 2016-17 Budget Review. The Review also details further progress on our path to budget balance.
Despite funding cuts from the Federal Government, most recently through reduced GST and grant funding, the Government has been able to improve the budget position in 2016-17 by $85.7 million, and deliver on a number of our election commitments. These include:
- Preparatory work on Stage 2 of our city wide light rail network, linking Stage one to the Woden town centre creating a ‘North-South’ transport spine;
- A trial of free concessional bus fares for off-peak daytime travel;
- A significant arts and events package, including support for the ‘Art, not Apart’ festival and a Floriade Fringe Festival;
- Business case development towards the new ice sports facility in the south of Canberra;
- Removing hurdles to increased organ donations; and
- Funding of the ‘Safe Schools’ program in ACT public schools after the Federal Government removed funding for the program.
Unlike other governments in Australia, we have not cut vital services to improve our financial position. Throughout the years of cuts from the Federal Government, we used our Budget to support the Canberra community and keep our city out of recession. This strategy worked and we are now seeing our economic position improve while staying on a path to a balanced budget.
Our economy achieved the highest level of growth since 2010-11, growing by 3.4 per cent in 2015-16, with the second strongest rate of any jurisdiction in Australia after NSW. The unemployment rate also decreased in 2015 16, with over 5,500 jobs created in the ACT between June 2015 and December 2016. In addition, we have maintained our AAA credit rating, which is a strong endorsement of the Government’s economic and fiscal management.
Building a strong, growing economy that creates jobs is one of the ACT Government’s highest priorities, and we will continue improving our budget position and provide essential services that the Canberra community expects and deserves.
Stage 2 of the city-wide light rail network and the funding of the Environmental Defenders Office are part of the ACT Labor Greens Parliamentary Agreement.
To view the 2016-17 Budget Review, visit the ACT Treasury website.