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Canberra braces for tough times

Gloomy outlook ... ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr offers advice to voters at North Ainslie Primary School on Saturday.

Gloomy outlook ... ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr offers advice to voters at North Ainslie Primary School on Saturday. Photo: Markus Mannheim

The ACT government is braced for a ''tough couple of years'' but believes it can ease some of the pain caused by the new Abbott government.

The territory's Treasurer, Andrew Barr, said ACT taxes and land-release programs would be reviewed and possibly adjusted in the wake of the election, depending on how many jobs the city lost.

Will they go through this cycle of laying people off only to re-employ them shortly afterwards? Time will tell. 

ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr

''As I said on budget day, we can't save Canberra from an Abbott government, but we certainly can make a difference and we intend to,'' he said on Sunday.

The Coalition pledged to shed 12,000 federal public service jobs across the country, and to impose a tougher austerity regime on the bureaucracy than Labor had promised, which will lead to even greater staff reductions.

The extent to which the ACT will cop the brunt of these cuts remains unknown.

Mr Barr said Canberrans would need to wait and see whether federal Liberal leader Tony Abbott was able to stick to his stated agenda.

''It's going to be a tough couple of years for us. But the incoming government will realise pretty quickly that it needs staff if it wants to actually implement its agenda.

''The question will be, will they go through this cycle of laying people off only to re-employ them shortly afterwards? Time will tell.

''The other issue for [the Coalition] will be the Senate, which looks an interesting beast.''

He said the ACT government would closely examine the outcomes of the promised commission of audit, which will advise Mr Abbott on how to reduce spending.

The territory government expects the oncoming job losses to reduce the size of the ACT economy by about $350 million to $650 million.

Mr Barr said he might be forced to adjust ACT taxes and the speed of its land releases in response to an economic downturn.

He would also try to take part in the federal government's promised white paper on tax reform, saying both the ACT and national economies needed to move away from inefficient, unpredictable taxes – such as stamp duties and other fees – to broader, sustainable revenue sources.

The ACT government would also examine how to cut red tape to attract new businesses and investment, including from overseas.

Mr Barr said the territory's large building projects – such as the City to the Lake development, the Capital Metro light-rail network and the new public hospital at the University of Canberra – would now become ''all the more important over the coming three years''.

9 comments

  • Sadly I think it will be the same as when Howard got in in the 90s and razored so many jobs. He realised that Oh there's no one left to actually do the work and hired all of them back at 3 and 4 times the cost on contract, false economy really.

    Commenter
    Deja Vue
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    September 08, 2013, 6:29PM
    • That's not how I remember it at all Deja. I bought a house on Wattle street O'Connor for $89,000 in the early 90's thanks to J Howard and have lived off the profits ever since...I look forward to buying the house of some overpaid Canberra labor fatcat public servant at a discount this time around too... It'll pay off in the long term, as well as being lovelyvpayback for the arrogant way that you poor white collars look at us blue collars...!

      Commenter
      Scream name
      Date and time
      September 09, 2013, 12:55AM
      • Get over yourself mate. Most people who think that they are being looked at all the time are slightly weird.
        And as for getting rid of all the PSs. Totally agree, sack the lot of the bludgers.
        I was at a PS worker get together last night and we all agreed that we are all bludgers!
        The post officer worker, the nurse working at the public hospital, the ranger working at the national park, the Centrelink workers who went up to Brisbane after the floods to make sure that silly people who had bought houses in known flood areas got money and benefits from administered by over-bloated PS's. We are all bludgers!

        Commenter
        weird
        Date and time
        September 09, 2013, 8:26AM
    • As usual Barr has again made statements which are untrue and project a picture that is aimed at the Liberal Party by forecasting bad times are now ahead because Labor has lost the Federal Election. It seems that his latest predictions are nothing but an excuse to increase the taxes because their inefficient management of the ACT's economy has resulted in a shortage of funds they will need implement all their pre election promises.

      Like Labor's Federal incompetence their equally irresponsible and totally incompetent way of management will eventually send this Territory broke and reduce our living standards.

      Let us not forget their irresponsible way of management when they used 300,000 dollars of our money on that ugly and unwanted abortion they call Sky Whale. Their incompetence is further aggravated by their plan to build the unwanted and not needed Light Rail System.

      Barr is irresponsible and too arrogant to be taken seriously.

      Commenter
      huggie
      Location
      conder
      Date and time
      September 09, 2013, 3:45AM
      • Absolutely correct 'huggie, absolutely correct but sadly our ACT Green Labor has the ACT residents convinced they are fools with a :just listen, don't speak" mentality, surely, surely there must be a way to tip them out.

        Commenter
        NITRO GANGSTER
        Date and time
        September 09, 2013, 7:37AM
      • The downturn for me started in the Mid 90's when the ACT government shut down the Phillip Test station. It nearly killed the motor industry in Phillip, it halved my business.

        Commenter
        KB1971
        Date and time
        September 09, 2013, 8:45AM
    • Barr obviously hasn't looked outside the crystal palace to see that Canberra businesses have been doing it tough under an ALP government for the past 12 months.

      Commenter
      You What
      Date and time
      September 09, 2013, 7:46AM
      • The property boom will make up any shortfall of economic activity, real or imagined.....

        Commenter
        TheJoker1214324
        Date and time
        September 09, 2013, 8:44AM
        • Don't forget labor had a significant part to play in this imagined oversupply of public servants

          If the Libs undertake the cutting of jobs I am hopeful it will be undertaken by natural attrition rather than how it was executed under Howard

          Commenter
          View
          Date and time
          September 09, 2013, 9:16AM
          Comments are now closed
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