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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3460 ..

Planning, Transport and City Services—Standing Committee—Report 6—Appropriation Bill 2020-2021 and Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2020-2021.

Public Accounts—Standing Committee—Report 2—Appropriation Bill 2021-2022 and Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2021-2022—

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

I thank the various committees for their analysis of the budget and the accompanying appropriation bills, and I further acknowledge the assistance that was provided by the secretariat teams in the preparation of each report. I thank my ministerial colleagues and government officials for their active engagement in responding to the dozens and dozens of questions that were raised during the hearings. I also recognise the Centre for International Economics for their independent assessment of the budget and their insights into not just the budget but other aspects of the territory’s financial management.

The government respects and values the important role played by the various standing committees in scrutinising the proposed expenditure. In delivering the response to the matters raised, I affirm the government’s commitment to open and transparent budget reporting and ensuring that our practices strengthen the integrity and accountability of public finance in the territory.

This is the second budget presented to the Assembly in 2021. I hope that we have no more years with two budgets in them. In developing this budget, the government focused on support for our healthcare system, the delivery of essential services, protecting and creating jobs, supporting the most vulnerable, and supporting local business during challenging times.

The sustained economic impact of COVID in the territory saw the government provide a significant investment in health care, education, industry support and, of course, the largest ever government infrastructure program, which across the general government sector and public trading enterprises accounts for $6.4 billion over the next five years.

We have endeavoured to provide confidence for households and businesses through the strength of our public health response and our economic response. We are already seeing the signs of the V-shaped recovery that was anticipated as we emerge out of lockdown. Since the lockdown ended on 15 October, data from major banks on spending in the economy indicates an incredibly strong rebound, with spending now above the equivalent 2019 or pre-pandemic levels.

The budget indicates the territory’s fiscal position remaining in deficit over the forward estimates period. The changes in our fiscal position demonstrate the costs associated with the additional support measures implemented during the pandemic. However, the strength of the territory’s balance sheet allows us to undertake these

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