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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1324 ..

Through this period we have invested more than $1.6 billion—around four per cent of the territory’s gross state product—to support Canberrans and our hardest hit industry sectors whilst bolstering our public healthcare system. The ACT government’s early economic survival measures provided immediate relief in the initial stages of the pandemic. Households and businesses, particularly small businesses, community clubs and tourism and hospitality businesses that were most impacted by those early public health responses benefited from a range of rebates, waivers and deferrals, rates relief and a period of no increase in government fees and charges.

The ACT government’s Jobs for Canberrans fund employed over 550 Canberrans who were left out of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper emergency payments from the commonwealth. We also fast tracked $45 million worth of job-creating local government infrastructure and maintenance projects across the territory, and this supported more than 2,000 local jobs.

As the public health situation stabilised in the second half of 2020, the government started work on the next phase of our economic response, through the release of the jobs and economic recovery plan. The plan demonstrates the government’s intention to drive strong economic activity and recovery over the next five years and sets an ambitious target for the total territory labour market growing to over 250,000—that is more than 250,000 people in work in the ACT by 2025.

Because we understand that stable, secure employment means more than just affording the groceries or being able to pay the rent or mortgage and that it provides meaning, structure, connection and opportunity in people’s lives, we focused on jobs first. We are working towards our 2025 target, and it will require constant attention and focus to create new employment opportunities for the ACT as they arise.

That is why the government established the Canberra Economic Advisory Group to bring together business leaders, small business representatives, industry experts and public policy experts to advise the government on short- and medium-term opportunities to strengthen and grow the territory economy.

Our delayed 2020-21 ACT budget, which recently passed this chamber, sets out an expanded infrastructure program with significant investments across priority action areas, including responding to climate action, health, transport, education, and training. We are building and expanding schools in Canberra, particularly in growing suburbs, and delivering better health care closer to home with a new network of regional health centres across the city. And just last week the government submitted the development application for our priority infrastructure project—the expansion of Canberra Hospital.

This project will create 500 jobs during its construction phase and contribute to our commitment to employ 400 new healthcare professionals in the territory over this term of government.

As members would be aware, we are also getting on with the job of building a city-wide light rail network. Following the overwhelming success of stage 1, the next stage will extend the existing route to Commonwealth Park on its way to Woden. As Minister Steel recently announced, work on this stage is expected to begin before the

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