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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 257 ..

The significant initiatives given effect by these bills include the rollout of our election commitment to give all public school students in years 7 to 12 a laptop to support and enhance their learning. This initiative is being delivered ahead of schedule because we believe it is crucial that students have these tools to thrive at school, regardless of their family circumstances.

The bill also contains funding for the delivery of more surgeries in this current fiscal year, including elective surgeries, to help improve public system wait times and to assist more patients back to health sooner. There is funding for the construction of a new bus depot in Woden to accommodate the growth in the territory’s bus fleet and to support the delivery of enhanced transport services across a redesigned network.

As we have discussed already this morning, the second appropriation also includes funding for a $50 increase to the annual utilities concession to help low income households with their cost of living, as well as an important measure to extend this concession to residents of long-stay caravan parks for the first time. There is funding for a further upgrade to facilities at Manuka Oval, including the configuring and fitting out of the broadcast and media centre to ensure that the ground can play host to more major national and international sporting events into the future.

The supplementary budget papers provide further details of the impact of these additional appropriations as well as the other agencies affected by the bills. Importantly, we are delivering further investment in front-line services whilst continuing to strengthen the territory budget. Our net debt for this year is estimated to be $371 million lower than expected at the time of the budget. Our overall borrowing program remains unchanged from the time of the budget because we are not borrowing to make these new investments. We have halved the deficit and are projecting a balanced budget and then stronger surpluses across the forward estimates.

In the last budget we outlined a clear set of priorities to deliver an even better Canberra by upgrading and improving local schools; by investing in our city’s health services, through renewal of our CBD, town centres and suburbs; by building an integrated, city-wide public transport system; by delivering better services to the community; and by supporting the creation of more jobs. The initiatives contained in these appropriation bills each advance these priorities and will ensure our city’s services and infrastructure keep getting better this year and in the years to come. I commend to the Assembly both the Appropriation Bill (No 2) and the somewhat smaller Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill (No 2) that I will introduce formally shortly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Coe) adjourned to the next sitting.

Reference to committee

Motion (by Mr Coe) agreed to:

That the Appropriation Bill 2017-2018 (No 2) be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

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