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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 6 Hansard (3 Junes) . . Page.. 1668..


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MADAM SPEAKER: Before I call Ms Berry, I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of a former member of this place, Mr Michael Moore. Welcome to the Assembly.

Questions without notice

Federal government—budget

MS BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, on Tuesday, 13 May the federal government brought down its budget for the 2014-15 financial year and beyond. Can you advise the Assembly what impacts the federal budget had on the ACT in terms of funding cuts and also the impact on local jobs?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Berry for the question. As members would know, and I think we discussed it in the last sitting, the ACT bore the brunt of federal budget cuts through very significant job losses and direct cuts to funding to different programs, including those in the community sector but also through agreements with the ACT government. These will all have a significant impact on our local community. While all the other jurisdictions received a boost through infrastructure funding, unfortunately this was not the case for the ACT.

When we are looking at the issue of job losses, it is clear that there will be about a 6,500 job reduction over the next three to four years, with 2,100 of those to go in the 2014-15 year. A further 1,500 non-public sector jobs are likely to go in supporting industries such as retail, hospitality and construction. There were also significant cuts to organisations like NICTA, which is very unfortunate in terms of the work that it is doing just beyond the Assembly.

In relation to the national health reform agreement, we are predicting that we will lose in the order of $240 million over the forward estimates, which would be the bottom-line impact, and significantly more over the next decade as the $80 billion in cuts to the health and education sectors flows through in those years that are just outside the forward estimates period.

We are also looking at national partnership payments, which will either have to cease or find other sources of revenue support, including concessions for pensioner concession card holders and seniors card holders, the preventative health national partnership, training places for single and teenage parents, obviously the one on improving public hospital services and the deferral of the one on adult dental services. The budget also ceased funding for the Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning at the University of Canberra. Of the $26 million committed, $25 million will not be paid.

The impacts on the surrounding region are significant as well. I have met with the local organisation of councils, which includes all the mayors from around the region. There is a freeze on what is known as the FAGs indexation, limiting their ability to build and maintain key infrastructure and to deliver services to the community. The impact of that indexation freeze on the ACT budget is, I understand, in the order of $18 million over the forward estimates period.


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