ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee has slammed the government's "glitzy" budget infrastructure spend, saying another year was added to the program to make the dollar figure look good.
One of the big ticket items touted by the ACT government in last week's budget was a $5 billion infrastructure spend to "turbo charge" the territory's post-lockdown economy.
However, the opposition has argued the spend is not drastically different to what was announced in the budget last financial year.
In the 2020-21 budget, an infrastructure spend of $4.3 billion was announced in the four years to 2023-24.
But this year the government has presented the infrastructure spend over five years, leading to what appears as a more impressive figure of almost $5 billion.
The four-year infrastructure spend outlined in last week's budget is $4.48 billion.
"In the delayed budget handed down in February this year, when the Labor-Greens government thought things were bouncing back and returning to normal, the infrastructure spend was $4.3 billion over four years," Ms Lee said.
"Now after the devastation of a lockdown and their self-proclaimed intention to 'turbo charge' the economy, the budget handed down last week shows an infrastructure spend of $4.48 billion over four years; amounting to a $179 million increase or just 4.2 per cent."
But Chief Minister Andrew Barr argued last week that the real increase was closer to 10 per cent.
In response to a question from Ms Lee, Mr Barr said the new net capital in the budget over the next four years is $455 million.
"The new net capital is nearly $500 million of a $5 billion program," he said.
Budget papers show that $455 million is the net capital of the financial impact of new policy decisions related to capital works outlined in the budget.
"It's not just the infrastructure program that is contained within the budget to turbocharge our city's economic recovery," Mr Barr said in response to the same question.
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The expected infrastructure spend for 2021-22 has been revised down from the previous budget from $1.28 billion to $1.03 billion.
However, it has increased in both 2022-23 and 2023-24 from $1.2 billion to $1.55 billion and from $990 million to $1.18 billion, respectively.
Ms Lee, who is also the shadow treasurer, has also voiced concerns about an infrastructure underspend. In the 2019-20 financial year, the ACT government did not spend almost $250 million that had been set aside for infrastructure projects.
"It is astounding that this government's signature announcement to 'turbo charge' the economy with an infrastructure boost comes with a complete failure to invest in our skills and trades to deliver on these projects," she said.
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