Page 1987 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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In terms of savings and efficiencies across the public service, finding those additional savings will be hard. But on one level those savings can be met in a moderate way; they will not deliver a shock to the ACT economy of the order that we would be expecting should an incoming government remove 12,000 to 20,000 public servants from the ACT. That is the silent sleeper in terms of Canberra going forward.

As to the tertiary cuts, I have met with both the vice-chancellors. In terms of their funding going forward, they will get less growth, and they will have to assess that and reflect that in their businesses. My discussion with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra is that while it will be tough, they made the decision—and it is reflected in their strategic plan—that they cannot be as dependent on government funding as they have been in the past. I think universities understand this, and they are making the necessary changes. But they will get less growth funding than they had anticipated, despite university funding being at record levels.

For the ACT, when we look at the impact on business, it is complicated this year because of the uncertainty about the federal budget and talk of both parties looking to drive efficiencies through the public service. One party is looking to do it in a measured way and the other party is talking about doing it in a way that would shock the economy, and business is responding to that. As I said this morning, I do not think anyone would dispute that business sentiment is weak and that they are concerned about the decisions the federal government is taking through this budget. But I have to say, in all the representations to me, they are more concerned about what would happen if Tony Abbott were Prime Minister. This is coming from people who would normally support, I would imagine—not that I have asked them their political persuasion—and are more naturally affiliated with the conservative side of politics.

The budget has allocations for pay parking in the parliamentary triangle. This is something the ACT government supports. I am not sure whether it is something the Canberra Liberals support; they have not been clear on that. We have been on the record for a long time that we think the triangle should be brought into line with the rest of the city. We believe there are parking problems that impact on tourists and visitors coming to our city and not being able to find a park and that standardising the process across the city would be welcome.

The revenue that is collected—I think it is $72 million factored in across the forward estimates—we believe should provide a revenue source to the National Capital Authority and the national institutions. If you are generating that revenue essentially from Canberrans who are parking close to their workplaces, there is a strong argument for that revenue to stay within the ACT and support the important work in maintaining the look and the amenity of national land in the national capital.

I will certainly be arguing very strongly for that to be the case. We will work with the NCA in terms of any assistance they might need around implementation of that decision over the next year. It will provide us with the opportunity to look at the bus routes into and out of the triangle and hear back from people who say it is too hard to catch a bus and see whether there are other things we can do to make that decision a bit easier. That goes to the issues of things like park and rides. When you look at the

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