The ACT is to get an eighth Minister to meet what the Chief Minister Andrew Barr says is the growing needs of the territory.
Mr Barr has opened the caucus process for a new Labor Minister, and the caucus will select a new Minister later this week.
“In response to our city’s growth, and to achieve our plan for the territory, we will be expanding our Ministry team. A new Minister will allow new priorities to be delivered, resulting in better outcomes for Canberrans,” Mr Barr said.
“As our city grows, we need to provide leadership in our expanding portfolio responsibilities. Both Tasmania and the Northern Territory have nine Ministers. The ACT, with eight, will continue to have the smallest executive of all the state and Territories.”
Mr Barr said Canberra was now a city of 420,000 people, with the ACT’s population projected to reach half a million people in the next decade.
“This growth has supported a stronger local economy that is growing faster than the rest of the nation. We have record levels of employment in the territory, with 229,000 Canberrans in employment and the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” he said.
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“As we near the halfway point of this Parliamentary term, the ACT Government is continuing to deliver more city services in response to this population growth. This includes the city-wide rollout of green bins, more investment in better footpaths and bikeways and more mowing, weeding and maintenance of our suburbs.”
The Chief Minister said the Government was building a public healthcare network that delivered free healthcare when and where Canberrans need it, including more nurse-led walk-in centres and more bulk-billing GP clinics in the south of Canberra.
“The conversation that the Government has started with our school students, our teachers, and our community will lead to a better education system for the ACT in the future. The Government is committed to providing consistent, equitable and quality outcomes for children and young people and the Future of Education strategy will help guide our efforts and investment across the next 10 years,” he said.
“The first stage of our city-wide light rail network is being finalised, as important negotiations continue with the Commonwealth Parliament on stage two of the network. Later this year, the Government will also release our Housing Strategy, outlining the next phase of our investments in public, community and affordable housing.”
Mr Barr said the Government’s campaign to restore territory rights on voluntary assisted dying must continue.
“The rights of the terminally ill to end their own life is, rightly, a matter of conscience and a mature conversation with the community is required. The ACT’s ability to have this conversation is not a matter of conscience, and we will pursue our campaign with the next Federal Parliament.”