Page 4708 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 10 November 2009

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Labor has introduced an emergency second appropriation to support volunteers and carers, and the people they support. And in recognition of the importance of the community sector, the government has introduced legislation for a portable long service leave scheme for the community and childcare sectors. Legislation governing the rights and responsibilities of residents and operators of retirement villages has been drafted and will shortly be tabled by my colleague Ms Mary Porter as an exposure draft for public and industry consultation.

The government is working hard this term to find new ways of informing, engaging and consulting with Canberrans. Among the early reforms have been the introduction of weekend community cabinet meetings and the weekly community noticeboard in the Saturday Canberra Times.

In 2007, ACT Labor delivered the nation’s most ambitious and wide-ranging affordable housing action plan. In the first year of this term, we have focused afresh on the special housing needs of older Canberrans and Canberrans at risk of homelessness, releasing a stage 2 report featuring dozens of innovative new actions. Meanwhile, the government has got on with the job of implementing the 63 actions from stage 1, with numerous bricks-and-mortar results to show for 12 months of labour.

The first proud homeowners have moved into affordable dwellings delivered under OwnPlace, a partnership between the government and local builders. New residential fronts have opened in three Gungahlin suburbs, with 15 per cent of all blocks in every new estate now reserved for affordable house-and-land packages under $300,000. The first dwellings delivered under the partnership between the government and CHC Affordable Housing have welcomed their new tenants this year, and a local lender has been secured for the land rent scheme.

Global economic turmoil notwithstanding, the ACT has retained its AAA credit rating, a welcome vote of confidence, by some of the toughest of critics, in Labor’s plans to return to a balanced budget—a vote of confidence in Labor’s prudent financial or fiscal discipline leading into and throughout the crisis.

Over the first year of this term, the government has worked shoulder to shoulder with industry and the business community to confront the challenges of the financial crisis. The government has invested $450,000 in a domestic tourism campaign targeting Sydney and surrounding regions and $100,000 in a marketing campaign to promote Canberra’s fantastic national attractions over summer. At the height of the crisis, the government invested $100,000 in a “shop local” campaign to boost retail spending over the Christmas period.

A payroll tax concession scheme has been designed and implemented, to encourage businesses to come to the territory.

Through an emergency third appropriation in February, the government invested $25 million in local capital projects to support local jobs. By 30 September, $12.4 million had been spent, 97.5 per cent of the allocation for the first year.

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