BUDGET14: Reactions to the ACT Budget

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AS reactions come in to today’s budget we’ll be publishing them below in the order they have arrived.

First in was the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury the approval of whom should not be surprising as he’s in the cabinet.

“It was a nasty federal budget and it’s clearly going to put the squeeze on the ACT community, the ACT economy and the ACT Government budget bottom line. In the face of that, the ACT will invest in significant projects that will continue to prepare our city for the future and build confidence in our resilience.

“The development of light rail from the city to Gungahlin will diversify the economy while putting in place a modern transport solution that will also drive urban renewal in the whole of the Northbourne corridor, and gets us started on a project that will reach right across Canberra.

“I especially welcome the funding to develop the business case for a new convention centre for the city, which the Greens negotiated into the Parliamentary Agreement with the ALP at the start of the term. Such a project helps diversify our economy by expanding the business events sector, bringing significant benefits to our city when completed, as thousands visit to attend conferences and events.

“We need to keep investing in projects that will diversify our economy rather than risk even greater dependence on the Commonwealth into the future.

The Insurance Council of Australia has also expressed pleasure at the winding down of stamp duty on insurance products in the ACT.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said: “The removal of stamp duties is of significant benefit to consumers in the ACT and we commend the government for leading the way on state tax reform.”

The Liberals’ Andrew Wall has made a short sharp statement on facebook:

“Today in the Assembly, Andrew Barr and ACT Labor handed down their Budget. Rates, fees and charges are all rising, and the deficit continues to grow. Put simply, they spend and you pay”

Liberal Leader Jeremy Hanson has expressed his displeasure:

“Today’s ACT Budget shows the high cost of ACT Labor and the Greens for regular Canberrans as debt, deficit, rates and the cost of living continues to increase,” Jeremy said.

“The government should be ashamed that under this budget the cost of living for Canberrans will rise significantly well above CPI and it will hurt.

“This is a government running on the belief it can keep on spending without a plan to pay the money back.”

The Canberra Business Council is glowing in its praise:

“The focus of this year’s ACT Budget on programs and funding to help existing and potential businesses is welcomed by Canberra Business Council as it will help the Territory respond to the impact on the local economy of Federal Government expenditure and employment cuts.

“Prioritising investment in sectors such as tourism, construction and building, and ICT, will help the ACT leverage its existing strengths.

“It is appropriate for the ACT Government to be spending at this time to underpin long-term job creation and positive economic activity.

“Canberra Business Council also supports the continuing tax reform the ACT Government is pursuing in order to provide the ACT with a more sustainable, long-term revenue base.”

Bicycle Canberra has expressed some considerable dissatisfaction:

“The ACT Budget 2014 -15. ACT Governments commitment to walking and cycling infrastructure funding, one word ………PATHETIC!”


ACT Medicare Local is very pleased:

“Today’s ACT Budget is a prudent community-building budget appropriate to Canberra’s current environment.

“Despite the many budgetary pressures, it’s pleasing to see the ACT Government focus on health in this budget including new and maintained health services and infrastructure. Many of these marry well with the needs we have identified in our Comprehensive Needs Assessment.

“In particular, ACTML welcomes funding for the Healthy Weight Initiative which is a whole-of-government response to fight increasing obesity in the ACT. Statistics show nearly 16% of kindergarten children in the ACT are classified as overweight or obese. Children’s role models are also alarmingly overweight or obese with 63.6% of adults in the ACT in the overweight or obese category.”

The ACT Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation is positive:

“Today’s announcements, in terms of the maintenance of current health services, along with proposed additional clinical and community services are welcome,” Ms Jenny Miragaya, ANMF ACT Branch Secretary, said.

“It appears to be a budget that rightly puts the welfare of the ACT Community’s most vulnerable first”.

ACT Light Rail is pleased their project is moving forward:

“Importantly for light rail, there has been an allocation of 21.3 million dollars to Capital Metro in the 2014/15 financial year.

“The Treasurer has confirmed that expressions of interest for construction will be sought in the first half of 2015.”

The hotelliers are generally happy:

“Following a tough year for Canberra’s licensed hospitality, hotel and tourism sector, it’s encouraging to see tourism and hospitality funding boosted in the ACT Budget,” Australian Hotels Association (AHA) ACT General Manager Brad Watts said.

“Despite a challenging climate, there’s strong potential for economic growth and employment in hospitality which was reflected in an overall funding increase to support the local hospitality sector in 2014-15.

“Extra funding to secure international flights to Canberra will help the industry take flight and further stimulate growth and investment, especially in the accommodation sector, which continues to grow at the top end of the market.

“New funding for major sporting events, infrastructure and marketing initiatives will also stimulate business and leisure tourism to Canberra with wider flow-on effects across the hospitality economy.

“Also, a long-awaited win for the sector will be ‘welcome’ entry signage to the ACT to align with Brand Canberra.

“On the downside, AHA ACT was disappointed there was no new funding for extra police as ACT Policing faced an ongoing efficiency dividend.”

The Canberra Convention Bureau is on board:

“The Canberra Convention Bureau enthusiastically acknowledges the ACT Governments commitment to the Australia Forum project despite not securing development funding from the Federal Government. The funds the ACT government has committed in this budget will contribute to the proposal being progressed to investment ready status by 2016.”

They do, however, want to see the Capital Metro lines run to the other side of City Hill to connect with the proposed Australia Forum.

The National Insurance Brokers Association has gone so far as to congratulate the ACT Government on their reduction of stamp duty on insurance:

“Insurance taxes directly affect the affordability of insurance in Australia. As such, they contribute directly to the under?insurance and non?insurance concerns across the community,” said National Insurance Brokers Association CEO Dallas Booth.

“This is directly contrary to good social policy. Insurance is the main source of funds for restoration and recovery from natural and other disasters, and lack of comprehensive insurance cover results in real ongoing detriment to individuals, families and communities across Australia.

“We hope other States and Territories take note of this significant example of tax reform.”

The Property Council is hedging its bets:

“The 2014-2015 ACT Budget handed down today reflects the current economic environment with a number of positive initiatives which will be of direct benefit to the Territory, although there are also some significant tax increases that may have the perverse outcome of slowing economic growth,” said Property Council ACT Executive Director Catherine Carter.

The Australian Education Union thinks it’s a mixed bag.

“The ACT Government is to be congratulated for honouring it’s Gonski commitments in the budget released today. By budgeting for the delivery of Gonski funding over 6 years, it’s making it clear to the Abbott Government that they must not walk away from ACT school students,” AEU ACT Branch Secretary Glenn Fowler said.

“Despite the commendable commitment to Gonski over the long term, today’s budget fails to deliver on ACT Labor’s commitment to invest $70m in school infrastructure, made in its 2012 election policy ‘Vision for Education’.

“Too many lessons in February and March and November and December are being compromised by extreme heat. In the depths of winter, heating in our schools is too often inadequate.

“The ACT Labor Party made a firm commitment in 2012 to invest $70 million in enhancing school infrastructure. Investing in efficient, environmentally friendly cooling and heating solutions is an urgent priority and yet, to date, the Government has delivered little.”

The Youth Coalition is on board:

“The Youth Coalition of the ACT, Canberra’s peak body for youth affairs, has welcomed the ACT Government’s acknowledgement of the significant challenges facing young people as federal budget measures look set to withdraw key supports and programs,” said Youth Coalition Director Emma Robertson.

“It was a strong message that the Chief Minister took time out to talk specifically with young people and the youth sector following the federal budget announcements.”

The ACT Council of Social Services is not sure.

“ACTCOSS has signalled cautious support for the ACT Budget released today, recognising a number of welcome measures but suggesting that there are missed opportunities for the ACT Government in supporting Canberra’s most vulnerable households,” said spokesperson of ACTCOSS Rebecca Vassarotti.

“We think that it is the right approach to invest in infrastructure, the economy and services, rather than introduce a harsh austerity budget.

“There are some welcome measures for low-income and disadvantaged people in this budget. We welcome investment into the NDIS, additional resources in disability and support for the implementation of the Human Services Blueprint. We are also pleased to see additional funding for out-of-home care and increases in concessions for low-income households and investment in mental health and suicide prevention.”

The AMA ACT was pretty happy:

“The government needs to be acknowledged for its commitment to health in the Territory and health initiatives in this budget represent some 31% of the overall budget commitment.

“Of particular note is the funding available for bariatric surgery; additional medical staff for the Emergency Departments and provision of extra inpatient beds to ensure that the additional patients seen in ED who need to be admitted, can be admitted. There are 31 new beds in this budget – 16 at Canberra Hospital and 15 at Calvary Hospital and a further six which will be taken up by expanding the Hospital in the Home program. Two extra beds in the Intensive Care Unit at Canberra Hospital and one at Calvary public hospital will certainly be welcome as it becomes increasingly busy and beds hard to find.

“The additional funding to promote more effectively BreastScreen services, as the Service has the capacity to see more women, but the take-up is not there. It would be of interest to know if women are being screened privately or if women in the target group are not being screened at all.

“Equally important and welcome is the additional funding for endoscopy procedures which will reduce the current waiting list.”

More as they come to hand. If we’ve missed yours email it to john@citynews.com.au .

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