7 October 2021

ACT Budget: New schools, light rail station in $5 billion infrastructure pipeline

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail

The first light rail stop for Stage 2 is among a number of transport projects announced in the Budget. Photo: File.

The ACT Government will unveil a $5 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects in today’s budget to drive the Territory’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

The government says that with 250 projects and 14 ongoing programs of work already underway, the largest infrastructure program in the history of the ACT public sector will support more than 15,300 construction jobs and create even more across the Territory for years to come.

Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr said the government would be going full throttle to support the strongest possible economic recovery.

“We will be pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the ACT economy over the coming years to support create and protect thousands of good, secure local jobs in the public sector, the private sector and the community sector,” he said.

“Interest rates are the lowest since Federation, providing a once in a century opportunity for the government to build sustainable, productivity-improving and growth-enabling infrastructure to prepare our city for the future.”

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A total of $1.4 billion will be ploughed into the ACT’s transport system, including the first light rail stop for stage two of light rail to Woden, design and construction of the Sulwood Drive shared path and the duplication of William Hovell Drive, as well as upgrades to roads and paths and improvements to active travel routes across Canberra.

A total of $950 million of funding will be invested in CIT and education infrastructure over the next five years, including an expansion of Margaret Hendry School and a new high school in Taylor.

It also includes nine new modular learning centres, design works for a new primary school at Strathnairn and a modernised Narrabundah College, road infrastructure for East Gungahlin High School and funding to prepare to modernise Garran Primary School.

A Cancer Research Centre at the Canberra Hospital, infrastructure upgrades at Calvary Public Hospital, planning for a new car park at the Canberra Hospital and planning and design for a future hospital in Canberra’s north are part of an $877 million spend on health and wellbeing over five years.

There is $2.8 million over two years to begin design and consultation to transform the Acton Waterfront where a section of Lake Burley Griffin has been reclaimed to create a new boardwalk and park.

READ MORE ACT Budget: $41 million to help rebuild shattered arts and tourism sectors

In Gungahlin, a new community recreation park is planned for Casey and $3 million over four years has been allocated for detailed design and construction, while there is also $600,000 for improved and new amenities for Yerrabi Pond District Park.

$9 million will go towards the Throsby Home of Football, and $300,000 over two years for a feasibility and design study to determine a delivery approach for community facilities in Gungahlin.

Local shopping centres will benefit from a total of $18.7 million allocated for upgrades.

There is $1.65 million over three years for detailed design work for the proposed Southern Memorial Park crematorium and cemetery to service the southside.

$15 million over three years will deliver a purpose-built facility for Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation at its current Wanniassa location to ensure it can continue to deliver services for children, young people and families.

The ACT’s emergency services will receive more than $12 million for upgrades to facilities, including refurbishments for the Gungahlin Joint Emergency Services Centre.

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A new state-of-the-art fire-fighting tanker has been purchased for $550,000 and fitted out with appropriate safety equipment in preparation for the 2020-21 bushfire season.

There is also $8.5 million to upgrade and improve major venues that host major sporting and other events in Canberra.

This includes consultation and planning works for a staged expansion of Exhibition Park in Canberra, a new video replay board and upgrades to Canberra Stadium and a new video scoreboard and upgrades to Manuka Oval.

There will also be a feasibility study for a second sealed access road for the National Arboretum and $2.9 million over two years for detailed design work for car park upgrades at Stromlo Forest Park.

Already announced are the big three infrastructure projects – the Canberra Hospital expansion, light rail stage 2A to Commonwealth Park and CIT Woden.

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Capital Retro2:54 pm 07 Oct 21

I think Andrew Barr has been channeling Don Draper:


When will Barr realise that the average person can’t afford anymore rates or rego increases. Our quality of life is decreasing because of having these continued increases. A tram from Civic to Woden will not in any way reduce the financial burden for the average person. But stopping these increses in rates and rego will help people. If Barr understood what the average person needed maybe he will put aside this tram project and minimise the financial cost to us.

Mike of Canberra7:15 pm 07 Oct 21

Nadin, what’s really needed in Canberra is for the “average person” to realise that this lousy local government has been in too long and that change is badly needed

Doubt the tram is the cause of any significant financial burden either.

Look around cost of living is going up everywhere.

HiddenDragon8:05 pm 06 Oct 21

“Interest rates are the lowest since Federation……”

As the recent Auditor-General’s report reminded us, interest rates would need to be seriously double-figure negative (not just slightly negative after allowing for inflation) to make the southern extension of light rail viable. But even in that fantasy world, the much higher priority for a real Labor government would be affordable housing for the battlers, not billions for boys’ toys.

Capital Retro8:38 am 07 Oct 21

Interest rates are like glaciers – they advance and retreat about every 30 years.

It was about 25 years ago that the borrowing interest rate for commercial investment was 22.5%pa.

Barr would have been a teenager then.

Prior to the election there were signs along Athllon saying it was being duplicated. I didn’t see anything in this article about it. All I saw was that a shared pathway is being built along Sulwood Drive. No road, but another bike path and of course there are to be improvements made to active travel routes across Canberra.

Infrustructure is always good, however, when you artificially fast forward projects many of those “new” jobs are likely to be imported, not local. The other issue, apart from the truck load of debt is that having brought forward future infrustructure projects, this will create a future construction drought.

Don’t you realise that before each election the ACT Government promises things for Tuggeranong like road duplication, a new Ice Rink, an indoor netball arena, etc but never actually delivers on Tuggeranong promises.

Sulwood Dr road duplication was promised then forgotten about thirty years ago, they must have realised they could do a bike path instead.

Capital Retro11:24 am 07 Oct 21

They just delivered me (in Tuggers) a new rate notice with a hefty increase that wasn’t promised.

Hi Capital & bj,
In my Google Feeds today came a article outlining what Tuggeranong will receive in the Budget; yep, we get a bike path (and higher Rates).
I’m pretty annoyed.
You would think our elected MLAs would be crying foul.

I no longer live in Tuggeranong, but I still take a keen interest in the lack of funding and support for the area. I’m now in the inner south and residents kick up a stink with their MLA’s if the footpath has a crack. Tuggeranong residents on the other hand don’t actively engage with their MLAs.

Gentleman and Burch have gotten off Scott free for years and the new Greens member is weak as water and delivered nothing for the area.

There’s a Greens member in Tuggeranong?

Well blow me down with a feather, haha.

With ALP/Greens having 16 of the 25 seats, there is no need for Burch & Gentleman to do anything. They are always going to get elected.

ACT politics would be well served with an “attack-dog” style of Opposition Leader. Someone who can make a noise and challenge the Government.

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