Despite funding cuts from the Federal Government, most recently through reduced GST and grant funding, the ACT 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.
The Budget Review gets Stage 2 of Light Rail underway, linking Stage 1 to Woden to the City to create a public transport spine for our city. It delivers funding to start scoping and design works.
The Budget Review also delivers on some of our other election commitments, including:
- starting consultations on a new ice sports facility;
- a significant arts and events package, through funding a new Floriade Fridge Festival and support for Art Not Apart;
- funding the Safe Schools program in ACT public schools;
- removing hurdles to increased organ donations;
- bringing forward arts funding; and
- giving seniors and other concession card holders free off-peak public transport.
We will deliver even more of our commitments in this year’s ACT Budget in June.
Importantly, we are keeping our promises to Canberrans and balancing the books.
The Budget Review reinforces the path back to balance outlined in the 2016 Budget, despite the $100 million drop in the Territory’s GST revenue over the forward estimates that was published in the Federal Government’s mid-year update.
The projected deficit for 2016-17 has almost halved since the Pre-Election Budget Update, and we remain on track for a return to balance from 2018-19.
Unlike other governments in Australia, we have not cut vital services to improve our financial position.
Throughout the years of Federal Government cuts, 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.
My Government has a big agenda to deliver over the next four years and I know that good management of the budget underpins our ability to do this.
As we have done with this Budget Review, we will progressively roll out new initiatives and better services in health, education, infrastructure and other areas, while keeping a close watch on the sustainability of the Territory’s finances.