While the ACT government can legitimately defend its minimalist spend on pandemic financial support by saying the local economy performed relatively well and it already had significant infrastructure projects in the pipeline, that does not mean it has done enough.
And, more importantly, it is still far too soon to declare "mission accomplished" and to turn off the tap given the termination of JobKeeper, and the end of the JobSeeker supplement, will likely push 1000 more Canberrans into poverty in coming days.
Questions are being asked of Treasurer Andrew Barr, over figures showing his Labor/Greens government spent proportionately less of its gross state product on initiatives to cushion locals against the impact of the COVID-19 downturn than any other state or territory in 2020.
The government's claim the ACT's spending as a proportion of its GSP was "broadly similar" to that of every other jurisdiction is both inaccurate and disingenuous.
The Tasmanian government stumped up almost 4.18 per cent of its GSP for economic support in 2020. This was almost double the 2.23 per cent of GSP allocated by the ACT. The average spend across all states and territories was 2.87 per cent, well above the ACT's.
The only jurisdiction to have spent almost as little on economic support than the bush capital was Western Australia. It was a close-run thing. with just .05 per cent in it.
In light of the willingness of states such as Tasmania to spend up big to ensure the economic survival of their most vulnerable and pandemic affected citizens, Mr Barr's criticisms of the Pegasus Economics report which has prompted this debate don't stand up.
The figures show the federal government did more than twice as much to support local households and businesses in 2020 as his own administration.
Claims that "clearly the Commonwealth has more policy levers and a budget that is 100 times larger than ours with which to deploy, as well as constitutional responsibility in certain areas that are beyond our remit" apply just as equally to the Apple Isle as they do to Mr Barr's own bailiwick.
His statement that "if Pegasus's argument was that we should have provided a wage subsidy scheme, or we should have increased [the] unemployment benefit, or we should have eased income taxing, these are all things that sit with the Commonwealth" bordered on the mischievous. The report had said none of those things.
Rather than, as Mr Barr also asserted, being an "opinion", the report was largely concerned with an analysis of known facts.
It would be unfair if the impoverished were left behind as the recovery gains momentum.
While there are many who, given the territory's debt levels, will be glad the government kept spending down, it would be grossly unfair if the impoverished, the homeless, and the unemployed were left behind as the recovery gains momentum.
There is plenty of scope for this government to improve health and mental health services, to deliver some creative options to assist the long-term unemployed back into the workforce, and to address Canberra's dire shortage of social housing.
How is it, for example, that at a time when both jobs and affordable housing were at a premium in 2020, well over one-third of Housing ACT's 368 empty houses were in need of remedial maintenance? The number of vacant houses has now risen to 403.
Providing secure housing is one of the best ways to help someone lift themselves out of poverty.
The opportunity to provide skills-based training, to create real jobs, and to address housing poverty would appear a sound investment for the territory.