28 September 2020

Campaign Trail: Voting opens, playground upgrades and renter protections

| Dominic Giannini
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Andrew Barr voting

Andrew Barr has already put his vote in for this year’s election Photo: Region Media.

On The Campaign Trail today, pre-poll voting opens, Labor promises more money for playgrounds, the Liberals announce their own tourism fund and the Greens vow stronger protections for renters.

Pre-poll voting has officially opened in the ACT, three weeks ahead of the 17 October polling day. Around 80 per cent of Canberrans are expected to vote early this year because of the pandemic.

Between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm this afternoon, more than 7,300 Canberrans voted – three times the number who voted on the first day in 2016.

Around one-third of residents usually vote early, so the significant increase, and extra electronic voting stations, could mean we receive an election result within hours of polls closing at 6:00 pm on 17 October as electronic votes will come in at a click of a button.

However, voters will still have to wait for the ACT Electoral Commission to officially call the result due to requirements allowing postal votes to be received up until the following week.

Tit-for-tat over Canberra tourism fund

The Canberra Liberals have promised to establish a $1 million strategic events attraction fund to help boost tourism in the ACT, as well as $5 million to co-fund events with local tourism providers.

Tourism grants of up to $10,000 will be provided for activities such as luxury camping, food and wine travel, 4WD tours, astronomy and nature tours.

This will allow the Territory to be “more competitive when bidding for major national and international events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup”, they say.

“Our plan will be a game-changer for the ACT’s tourism industry, opening up the Bush Capital to a world of new opportunities for growth and deliver a significant return on investment,” Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe said.

Andrew Wall and Alistair Coe

Liberals leader Alistair Coe (right) and tourism spokesperson Andrew Wall (left) have announced a new tourism fund if the party forms government in October. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

However, the plan has been rubbished by Chief Minister Andrew Barr who called it a copy and rebrand of Labor’s policy.

Mr Barr said such a fund already existed and would get a $1.5 million top-up if Labor was re-elected.

The ACT Major Events Fund provides $1 million in annual funding to support the attraction of major events and has funded 35 events and exhibitions, attracted over 4.4 million attendees, and delivered approximately $870 million in economic return, Mr Barr said.

Labor also announced a $3 million flight fund last Friday to attract more domestic flights to Canberra.

Playgrounds and local shop upgrades form new Labor election pledge

A re-elected Labor Government will spend $5.4 million to build a new playground in the Inner North and upgrade playgrounds in Kaleen, Ngunnawal, Chisholm, Gordon, Lyons and Aranda.

Twelve new shade-sails will also be erected at playgrounds across Canberra at a cost of $360,000 while $400,000 will be spent to build fencing at playgrounds.

More than $22 million has also been promised to build up local shopping precincts over the next four years, including upgrades at shops in Campbell, Narrabundah, Kaleen South, Duffy, Evatt, Macquarie, Monash, Calwell, Lanyon and Cooleman Court.

Upgrades will range from landscaping, footpath renewal and mobility upgrades, new seating, new bins and improved waste management.

Roads, pedestrian infrastructure and parking will be boosted in Pialligo with $5 million of the $22 million set aside for the commercial and industrial area.

Labor gives 50 young Canberrans a leg up with new jobs fund

Fifty young Canberrans will be given access to free online courses under a $2.3 million pilot program to help find new pathways to secure a job, ACT Labor says.

Starting in 2022, a re-elected Labor Government will give young Canberrans from public schools looking to complete an apprenticeship an extra year to finish college so they can start early training for a qualification or trade.

“All students and employers will have one-on-one support to complete their qualifications and gain their senior secondary school certificate,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

An extra $1.5 million will also be given to CIT over the next four years to deliver online courses, Mr Barr said.

Liberals back up Bush Capital attack

The Canberra Liberals will put $5.8 million over the next four years towards 400,000 trees as part of its one million trees pledge, ramping up its attack on Labor for threatening Canberra’s status as the Bush Capital.

Up to 10 trees per new dwelling depending on the type and size of the dwelling will also be offered, Liberals spokesperson for the environment Elizabeth Lee said.

The Liberals have previously been criticised for not releasing the cost of the policy and underestimating the cost and maintenance of a tree, which Labor says is between $350 to $450.

READ MORE How much does a tree really cost in Canberra? Libs, government fight over planting plans

The party will also give ACT Wildlife an additional $50,000 per year and $50,000 for an animal ambulance to help take care of sick animals.

Recycling initiatives, like Lids4Kids, will also be able to access grants of up to $10,000.

Canberra Liberals’ environment spokesperson Elizabeth Lee says 400,000 trees will be planted over the next four years at a cost of $5.8 million. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Greens push to expand renter protections

The ACT Greens will introduce new legislation to end ‘no cause’ evictions and rent bidding if they continue to hold the balance of power after next month’s election.

Under the proposal, the rental application process will be streamlined while more money will be put towards tenant advocacy services and affordable rental properties.

The land tax exemption scheme – available to landlords who rent their property through a registered community housing provider for affordable community housing purposes – will also be extended for affordable renting.

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