The ACT budget was handed down on Wednesday, with big expenditures for young people, hospitals and schools. Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the budget was designed to aid in the ACT's post-lockdown and post-COVID recovery.
Here are the budget's biggest winners and losers.
OTHER BUDGET NEWS:
Hospitals in the ACT will receive more than $500 million in additional funding over four years. This will go towards an expansion of the Canberra Hospital emergency department, a new car park and 10 new acute mental health inpatient beds at the Canberra Hospital.
Five new inpatient beds will be added to Clare Holland House hospice and new walk-in centres will be built in Tuggeranong, West Belconnen, the inner south, and Gungahlin. $36.2 million will be provided to improve infrastructure at Calvary Hospital, and $13.5 million has been allocated to plan for future hospital infrastructure in north Canberra. There is also $7.2 million to establish a new cancer research centre at the Canberra Region Cancer Centre.
There has been $99 million allocated over the next four years to upgrade schools, including replacing heating systems, roofs, installing solar and battery energy storage systems, and providing bike storage facilities.
Funding has been allocated to remove hazardous materials from public schools. The Margaret Hendry Primary School, Garran Primary School, Narrabundah College and a new school in Taylor will be refurbished. Modular learning centres - standalone classrooms built offsite - will be installed across Canberra. Money has also been allocated to design new and expand schools in the inner south, inner north and north Canberra, Molonglo, and central Belconnen regions.
Elite women's sport
Women's sport is set to get a boost with the government allocating $1.5m over the next four years. The money is set to give the Canberra Capitals and Canberra United ongoing funding.
There will be new dog parks in the Lanyon Valley and Franklin and upgrades at existing dog parks in Casey and O'Connor.
Could Canberra host another Test match in the coming years? The government has allocated $2.3 million in funding for a major event in 2023-24 aimed at cricket. The budget says it is for a Test or one-day international, but the cricket schedule is not done that far in advance. Manuka Oval hosted its first men's Test match in 2019 when Australia played against Sri Lanka.
There will be $14.9 million spent to expand the ACT's tree planting program to deliver 54,000 new trees over the next three years, under the plan to increase Canberra's canopy coverage to 30 per cent by 2045.
Eleven local shopping centres or the facilities around them will receive upgraded works, receiving $18.7 million in total. These include the local shops in Narrabundah, Evatt, Macquarie and Monash and the group centres at Calwell, Lanyon and Kippax. There will also be new public toilets at Farrer and Florey.
Five-hundred three-year-olds will receive free pre-schooling for two days a week, 48 weeks a year. The preschoolers will also be able to take advantage of upgraded playgrounds in Kaleen, Ngunnawal, Chisholm, Gordon, Lyons and Aranda.
Youth mental health charity Orygen will receive $7.5 million to develop an online platform for a Moderated Online Social Therapy. The Ted Noffs Foundation and CatholicCare facilities in Watson have received $800,000 to develop their facilities, and youth homelessness safe and connected youth program has received $7 million over four years to support at risk youth.
The Therapeutic Care Court has received funding in part to provide therapeutic support for parents involved in custody disputes. The Muliyan off-campus flexible learning program will get money to support 30 vulnerable students in non-traditional learning and five schools will participate in a two-year trial to provide breakfast and lunch for students three days a week.
Drug and alcohol services
The budget will provide funds to expand the existing needle and syringe program, start developing an alcohol and drug mental health treatment precinct including a substance rehabilitation facility in partnership with Winnunga Nimmityjah. The Drug and Alcohol court will receive $17.8 million to continue operating.
An extra $100 million has been committed, including $80 million over the next few years, to maintain some of ACT's 12,000 public housing properties. The budget also allocated $14.6 million over four years for planning and site investigations for land supply to build 800 new public housing dwellings.
Funds have been allocated to establish the $20 million healing and reconciliation fund. $920,000 has been provided for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business support package and more than $15 million will go towards for the construction of a purpose-built facility for Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation; and the establishment of an Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Commissioner. There also be upgrades to the CPP, which is used to provide culturally appropriate support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants.
$15.2 million for the ACT Ambulance Service to transition to a more patient-centred service, ensuring safer triaging of patients and dispatching of ambulances; Increased funding for ACT Policing; including enabling services for radio communications capability and additional funding for the ACT Policing forensic medical contract. Funding to supply the ESA with 51 standard vehicles, nine low-emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure to enable the transition to a more environmentally sustainable program.
Victims of crime
There has been $7.2 million allocated to support the Victim Services Scheme and the Victims of Crime Financial Assistance Scheme. This will go towards counselling and financial assistance programs.
There will be expanded bus services to Whitlam, planning for a Northside electric bus depot and funding for an on-demand transport feasibility study.
Indoor sports and concerts
There was no funding allocated to maintenance of the AIS Arena, which has been closed for more than 18 months. The federal government owns the arena, but is unwilling to invest money to have it reopen after fire hazard issues forced its closure in March last year.
The ACT government appears unwilling to pay for the repairs, leaving the Canberra Capitals, Super Netball, concerts and exhibitions without their main indoor venues. The government has said it will also undertake a review of suitable alternative venues to the Australian Institute of Sport Arena that could accommodate large capacity crowds for indoor sports.
The ACT government has allocated over $290 million in COVID-19 business support grants, which is jointly funded with the Commonwealth government; $46.5 million for the small business hardship scheme, which provides up to $10,000 in financial support to businesses that have been significantly affected during the COVID-19 pandemic; and grants of up to $25,000 and other measures to support the tourism industry.
However, there is no extra business support beyond the 2021-22 financial year. Instead the government is relying on consumers to rebuild businesses.
Ratepayers can expect a 3.75 per cent average increase in rates, which will help raise the funds to support projects in the budget.
There has been no extra funding allocated for services for seniors in the budget, despite the closure of the AIS fitness centre last month. This centre was mostly used by older people, and held the only seniors mass aquatic classes in the ACT.
MORE A.C.T. BUDGET:
- Everything you need to know about the 2021-22 ACT budget
- Hopes on consumers for economic recovery as ACT posts largest ever deficit
- The winners and losers in this year's ACT budget
- A time to spend boldly, but future needs balance
- $461m for core health services, including more mental health, ICU beds
- Gaps in business support a concern for retailers
- Canberrans slugged with rising debt levels in years to come
- Rubber hits the road on electric bus program as Monaro Hwy upgrade gathers pace
- Barr hopes AIS Arena could remain mass vaccine hub for booster shots
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