Chief Minister Andrew Barr will launch his government’s re-election bid this afternoon with a blatantly political speech to the Legislative Assembly outlining its priorities for 2020.
The key priority will be to win Labor a sixth term in October and Mr Barr will tell voters, through the Assembly, that 2020 is the year they will be asked to “make a choice about our city’s direction for the first half of the decade”.
“Now is not the time to send our city backwards,” Mr Barr will say.
“Our growing city needs new and better public infrastructure. Our community expects world-class public services and they need good secure jobs in the future. And this government is committed to delivering just that.”
Mr Barr will set out the government’s agenda for 2020 across 14 policy areas, saying that while the ACT will suffer economic aftershocks from the recent fires and smoke, the economy remains as strong as it has ever been.
“Today, we account for the largest share of the national economy in our history,” he will say.
“The ACT economy is now worth almost $42 billion – larger than both Tasmania and the Northern Territory – and is one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation. Over the past four years, 3,200 new business have established and 19,600 new jobs have been created.”
Mr Barr’s speech will stress an infrastructure spend across key areas of health, education and transport, including the $500 million Canberra Hospital SPIRE project, new schools and light rail Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park, with contracts being signed and work commencing this year.
In a clear pitch to families struggling with the cost of childcare, Mr Barr will announce that Education Minister Yvette Berry will later this year release the government’s Early Childhood Strategy to “ensure every child in the ACT has the best start in life through equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care”.
“This important document will also outline the first, targeted phase of our commitment to provide free pre-school to three-year-olds in the ACT,” Mr Barr will say.
Mr Barr will also announce that Emergency Services and Environment and Heritage Minister Mick Gentleman will oversee the government’s bushfire recovery and resilience efforts, including the regeneration of Namadgi National Park, return of wildlife, and repairs to government infrastructure and assets.
Mr Barr will also take the opportunity to announce the full detail of the government’s new wellbeing framework which, from this year on, will be reported against as part of the annual Budget process.
The government has been developing a set of wellbeing indicators to help guide government decision-making and priorities for the future.
“These indicators will help us measure how Canberra is performing based on what Canberrans believe is necessary to live a quality life,” according to Mr Barr.