3 April 2019

Budget 2019: Growing Canberra not on Coalition's re-election radar, says Barr

| Ian Bushnell
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Andrew Barr: Growing Canberra has missed out again in favour of marginal seats. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The Budget confirms that Canberra is not part of the Coalition Government re-election plans, according to Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

“This is a Budget that looks more like a marginal seats campaign launch than a national economic statement, ” he said.

Canberrans had missed out on an infrastructure City Deal, investment in faster rail connections between Sydney and Canberra and investment in Stage 2 of the light rail network.

“From a $100 billion Infrastructure Budget, all Canberra gets is $52 million, much of which is for a road mostly located in NSW,” he said, referring to the Kings Highway.

“Instead, we get even more public service jobs shifted out of the city. This is a Government that is no longer trying to hide their efforts at pork barrelling in marginal seats at the expense of the National Capital through decentralisation.”

He said that despite Canberra’s growth, the ACT has again been overlooked for a City Deal in favour of marginal seats in Geelong, Albury-Wodonga, Adelaide, Hobart, Barkley and the electorate of Hinkler.

He was also disappointed that the Government had not matched the $200 million committed by Federal Labor for Light Rail Stage 2.

“In one pre-election commitment, Federal Labor have committed almost four times as much in infrastructure to reduce congestion in the ACT than the Federal Liberal Government have in this Budget,” he said.

But Mr Barr welcomed the fact that Federal Government had honoured its commitment with funding for the ACT’s National Health agreement, including increased funding for palliative care centre Clare Holland House.

“We are also glad that our National Institutions, many of which have been cut to the bone through successive Federal Budgets, have escaped largely unscathed,” he said.

In contrast, ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja said Canberra had benefited from the Government’s economic management, highlighting the first surplus in more than a decade, and how the Budget would create more jobs, lower taxes and guarantee essential services like schools, hospitals and roads.

While 190 public service jobs will go to the regions as part of decentralisation, Senator Seselja said overall ASL positions in Canberra would increase by 1271.

He also said the Government was investing in the national institutions with $15 million to Questacon, and $10 million to the National Library to extend its digital resource, Trove.

“This is on top of the massive $498 million expansion of the War Memorial announced last year and our $63 million commitment to the National Gallery,” he said.

For a break-down of how the Federal Budget will affect Canberra, read our analysis here.

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Oh good. Decentralising parts of the public service means lower population growth and fewer horrible high-rise apartment blocks in Canberra.

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