Campaign Trail: Libs freeze commercial rates, $170 million for north Canberra schools and what your vote’s really worth

Dominic Giannini 25 September 2020

Liberal leader Alistair Coe says the party will freeze commercial rates for landlords who pass the savings on to their tenants. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

On The Campaign Trail today, the Liberals promise to freeze commercial rates, Labor splashes on schools in the north, Rattenbury backs greens loans for landlords and what your vote’s really worth to the major parties.

$170 million for North Canberra schools

A new $85 million high school in Taylor and a new $35 million primary school in North Gungahlin will be constructed under a re-elected Labor Government.

Work on the Taylor school will begin in the 2022-23 financial year and is expected to take around two years to complete.

ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr announces the pre-election pledge to build a new tennis facility at Gungahlin. Photo: Tennis ACT.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announces more money for schools in north Canberra. Photo: Tennis ACT.

The new primary school will cater for around 600 children and the high school will cater for around 800.

“Gungahlin is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and more Canberra families are choosing public education,” Labor’s Education Spokesperson Yvette Berry said.

“A re-elected Labor government will make sure that new schools are built as they are needed to make sure that every child has a place a great local public school.”

A $50 million fund to expand the capacity of colleges – including Gungahlin College and Dickson College – in Canberra’s north rounds off Labor’s most recent education announcement.

The new schools will be emissions-free.

Canberra Liberals pitch for the business vote

The Canberra Liberals have promised to freeze commercial rates for two years under the caveat that landlords pass on the savings to tenants who have not already received financial relief from their landlords.

A ‘Red Tape Taskforce’ will also be established to investigate reducing business taxes, fees and regulations, and local employers will also be able to save up to $150 on business vehicle registration fees if the Liberals take government in October.

The commercial rates freeze and business car registration is estimated to cost $47 million if all eligible landlords take up the offer. Mr Coe said $26 million would be handed back to small businesses under the policy, which will only affect commercial properties valued below $2 million.

Dementia neighbourhoods

A Liberal Government has further vowed to explore building a neighbourhood specifically for people with dementia which could include 15 homes that can house six residents each.

The neighbourhood would also provide 24-hour support and help foster a sense of community and social interaction, Liberal seniors spokesperson Nicole Lawder said.

The undersupply of residential aged care places in the ACT is projected to grow from 569 in 2020 to 693 in 2023. More than 81 per cent of people in Canberra wait more than three months for a position in a home, she said.


READ ALSO: Election season is in full swing, but my enthusiasm still hasn’t arrived


Liberals “having a bet each way” on greyhound racing

The Greens have accused the Liberals and the Belco Party – for whom Canberra Greyhound Racing Club chairman Alan Tutt is a candidate – of being opaque on where they stand on a re-introduction of greyhound racing in the ACT.

Greyhound racing was banned in the ACT in early 2018, a move that was opposed by the Liberals.

Media releases and statements relating to the removal of the ban have since been taken off the Canberra Liberals’ website and the links appear to be broken.

The Liberals have since said reintroducing greyhound racing to the ACT is not a priority for a Coe Government.

Mr Tutt said while he supports overturning the ban, the Belco Party does not have a formal policy on the issue.

Greyhounds

Greyhound racing has been banned in the ACT since 2018. Photo: Stock.

Unionists kicked off government boards under Libs

One thing the Liberal Party does have a firm position on is banning any company or person convicted of a crime and given “significant penalties” from sitting on government advisory boards.

“Any individual, company or organisation that has been fined or found guilty of breaching workplace and industrial relations laws will not be eligible to sit on a Liberal government advisory board, and any existing positions will be terminated effective immediately,” a spokesperson said.

CFMMEU secretary Jason O’Mara, assistant secretary Zachary Smith have been fined for illegally picketing a Constitution Place construction site. Mr Smith currently advises the ACT Government on procurement decisions through the Secure Local Jobs Advisory Council, while Mr O’Mara sits on the ACT Work Safety Council.

The construction union was also fined.


READ ALSO: Andrew Barr faces the voters with electoral equanimity


Energy bills to fall under $50 million transition fund, Greens say

A $50 million fund will help Canberrans transition to more sustainable and energy-efficient measures like solar panels and batteries, draft sealing, insulation and glazing, the Greens say.

A no-interest loan scheme will also be established for landlords to upgrade rental properties.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will be approached for capital while reverse auctions will be used to find the most cost-effective solutions.

Around 840 new jobs will be created through the extension retrofitting program, Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said.

Shane Rattenbury

Greens leader Shane Rattenbury says a new $50 million transition fund will help make the ACT more energy efficient. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Every vote counts – and this is what it’s worth

Independent candidate for Kurrajong Bruce Paine says he will donate any money he receives from the ACT Electoral Commission off the back of his campaign.

Under the current rules, candidates who win at least 4 per cent of the vote receive $8 a vote from the Electoral Commission.

The three major parties received a combined total of over $1.6 million following the last ACT election. Mr Paine has called on the parties to donate any funds they receive from the ACT Electoral Commission.

Candidates formally declared

Candidates for the 2020 ACT election have been formally declared by the ACT Electoral Commission and had their ballot orders chosen through a random draw.

The Electortal Commissioner, Mr Cantwell, confirmed that 137 candidates would be contesting this year’s election, which is down from 141 in 2016.

Damian Cantwell

ACT Electoral Commissioner Damian Cantwell announced the candidates today (24 September). Photo: Dominic Giannini.


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