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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 824 ..

Appropriation Bill 2020-2021

[Cognate bill:

Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2020-2021

Cognate papers:


Committees—Standing—report—government response]

Debate resumed from Tuesday, 9 February 2021 on motion by Mr Barr:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Pettersson): I remind members that in debating order of the day No 1, executive business, they may also address their remarks to executive business order of the day No 2 and Assembly business order of the day relating to the government response to the standing committees’ reports on the Appropriation Bill 2020-2021 and the Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2020-2021.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.21): It gives me great pleasure to speak on the budget bills today and to be kicking off the debate this week in relation to the health portfolio, which comprises the ACT Local Hospital Network, the ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services, which I understand are being debated cognately this morning. Of course, the reason they are first cab off the rank is that Health comprises the largest single proportion of the ACT budget, with health portfolio expenses set to rise to almost $2 billion in the 2020-21 budget. Excluding territorial grants, it is more accurately $1.99 billion. This represents an increase of $95 million, or a five per cent increase on 2019-20.

New funding announced in this budget is approximately $24 million in 2021 for the health portfolio. Of course, these amounts are additional to the increased funding which was announced prior to the 2020 election. The Chief Minister has gone through a number of economic updates and statements that have been made in the last few months in relation to our budget position. New initiatives overall will fund 103 additional full-time equivalent staff in 2021, with the majority of the resourcing adding to the COVID-19 public health emergency response. The budget also on-passes all components of the commonwealth’s community health and hospitals program national partnership agreement, which will fund a combination of capital and recurrent projects worth $53 million.

It was important that the Chief Minister talked about the context of this budget. As we talked to the community about the things that were and were not in this budget, it was important to think about the timing and the focus, given it was a delayed budget for 2020-21 and it was pulled together in that short time frame effectively between the election and Christmas. The focus has really been on those items that needed to be funded in the 2020-21 financial year or that needed absolute certainty by 1 July to be able to get moving in that time period.

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