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'Election budget without an election'

The government 's desperate for love, says Peter Hartcher, while Michelle Grattan says it wants to shore up battler votes.

PT2M20S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1yb5t 620 349

The ACT receives slim pickings in new Commonwealth budget spending this year and instead will be hit by thousands of public service job losses and tens of millions of dollars in cuts to operating budgets across major cultural institutions and government agencies.

Headline losses for the ACT include an estimated 4000 public sector job cuts across a raft of agencies, including Defence, Tax and Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

<em>Illustration: David Pope</em>

Illustration: David Pope

Over the three-year forward estimates, these job cuts are expected to balloon to more than 12,000.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics and CSIRO – both of which have their headquarters in Canberra – have also been targeted with major budget cuts.

The ABS will lose $255 million in operating expenses next year from a total budget of  $640 million. While a sizeable proportion of last year’s budget allocation was to support the 2011 national census and the drop in funding is not unexpected, efficiencies are expected to be made and a further $23 million cut is slated for 2013-14. The ABS is also earmarked for 680 job losses although the Budget papers state this number is “predominantly” due to the end of contract staff who worked on the census.

The CSIRO stands to lose $25 million in operating expenses next year and 116 staff.

The National Library takes a $4 million cut and 10 job losses.

The National Film and Sound Archive loses four jobs and $1 million in funding.

Likewise the National Museum loses four jobs and $1 million and the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman loses 23 staff.

Even Parliament House will be hit – the Department of Parliamentary Services taking a $3 million cut and losing 18 positions. The capital works budget also takes a $26 million hit although $2.6 million will be allocated to upgrade disability access to the building.

The House of Representatives gains one staff position while the Senate loses six and Old Parliament House loses five.

The Civil Aviation Authority loses $4 million and Canberra Airport will have to deliver  partial cost recovery of airport policing – a saving likely to be recouped by increased passenger charges.

The  High Court loses $1 million and two positions.

As revealed yesterday in The Canberra Times, the National Capital Authority will receive $2.4 million next year as part of an $11.9 million four-year injection to ensure its continuing financial viability following recommendations from the Hawke Review.

Manuka Oval will receive a $2.5 million Commonwealth contribution towards its lighting upgrade in a cost-share arrangement with the ACT Government.

The National Portrait Gallery will receive $2.7 million over three years to establish it as a statutory authority – the funding to support a governing board and additional staff.

As previously reported in The Canberra Times, the Australian War Memorial will receive $27 million to refurbish its First World War galleries as part of an $83.5 million national pool to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First world War and Anzac Centenary.

The War Memorial also receives a $3 million general recurrent funding boost and will receive $11 million in capital works spending next year.

The national collecting institutions will share in an addition $39.3 million over four years to allow them to better deliver services to the community.

Next year the National Archives will receive $800,000, the National Library, $700,000, the National Museum, $600,000, the War Memorial $600,000 and the National Gallery $400,000. Old Parliament House will receive $200,000 and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies will receive $100,000 under the supplementary funding.

But Canberra’s bid to house the first Islamic Museum of Australia has been rebuffed – with the $1.5 million project going to Melbourne.

Plans for a pedestrian path to link Civic and Parliament House were allocated $100,000 for a feasibility study to look at potential routes and signage for the walk.

Meanwhile, Canberra’s battle for a high speed rail link continues as the government spends $20 million over four years to continue feasibility studies.