Chief Minister Gallagher has come to the conclusion that an election year is no time to be spending half a billion dollars on a new monument to the power and glory of the ACT Government. Instead the money will go into the beloved health system:
The Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher, and the Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer, Andrew Barr, today visited The Canberra Hospital and announced the Government will be investing an extra half a billion dollars in public health infrastructure across Canberra.
The ACT Labor leadership team said that the Government’s first priority was the delivery of health services for Canberrans – including building a new sub-acute hospital in northern Canberra – and announced the additional health funding would be sourced by transferring funding earmarked for the Civic Government office block.
“This decision means almost half a billion dollars in additional funding will be devoted to the delivery of new health infrastructure across Canberra – including a new sub-acute hospital,” the Chief Minister said.
What next? Selling off the arboretum for apartments?
At least things don’t look quite so grim for the Gungahlin Penal Battalion.
UPDATE: Zed Seselja is again channelling Tony Abbott and asking what this means about Chiefly trustworthiness:
Katy Gallagher took another credibility blow today by scrapping the government’s $432 million office block, a clearly political response to a project she signed off on as Treasurer only a few months ago, ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said today.
“This is a building which ACT Labor said Canberra simply could not do without, that it would not compete for funding for hospitals, and that it would save taxpayers $34 million a year,” Mr Seselja said.
“But this was clearly not true, as the government has been unable to justify these claims, even after spending $5.7 million of taxpayer dollars to justify their office block plans.
“The real question is, after this latest half billion dollar backflip – can Katy Gallagher’s word ever be trusted? She has a long record of backflips and broken promises.
Further Update: The Greens have announced they’re very happy with this decision:
“The Greens have long argued that we need to make sure that we investigate all the options for providing government office accommodation,” Greens Planning spokesperson, Caroline Le Couteur MLA, said today.
“Today’s announcement reflects the reality that there are other ways apart from the single building model that may well be better options for the Territory.
“The single building model needed to be challenged and we are pleased that the Government will be looking at alternatives such as retrofitting some of the City’s vacant office accommodation.
“The ACT has the highest rate of office vacancies in Australia so it is likely that refurbishing some of that space will cost less, have less environmental impact and deliver improved accommodation to our public servants.