Page 2506 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 6 August 2013

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Canberra and, nine months into the term, work is well advanced and many of the building blocks are in place for projects that will, over time, transform the city.

The projects we have funded in the budget are all about making sure we keep building Canberra as a city that is liveable, healthy and smart, a city of opportunity, fairness and urban renewal and a city with a strong and growing economy. The budget included funding for up to 70 per cent of the promises we made to ACT voters last October. Just yesterday I released a joint communique with Mr Rattenbury which spells out the progress the government is making under the commitments agreed to under the parliamentary agreement with the Greens.

The government is very pleased with the progress that has been made to date but it is an ambitious agenda to deliver on some very key, major projects over the next four years. These projects include the University of Canberra hospital, initiatives like study Canberra, capital metro, delivering the city plan and the city to the lake project, some of the work that we have to do across the town centres, and of course the standard and core function of the ACT government—to deliver high quality services to the people of the ACT.

Many of the major projects that we are talking about will bring benefits for Canberra’s growing population but they are also a key element of a broader economic and planning agenda that will serve the city in the long term.

An investment in light rail now can return many times that amount in future investment along the corridor, more jobs, less car dependency, less road congestion, less road maintenance requirements, greater mobility for seniors, better access to the city centre and less carbon emissions. It will also pay us back for investing before the city is too big and the task is too great. Imagine how different Sydney’s transport network would be if the planners could turn back the clock and preserve some of the corridors which are now impossible to reclaim. The same arguments hold for the city plan, the town centre master plans and open spaces and, indeed, all urban renewal projects that we can deliver, because you need to have a vision, the opportunity and indeed the budget strategy to do it.

In terms of growing the economy, the transformation needs to target the economy directly—its capacity, its attractiveness for investment and its diversification. That is why the government is working to help the best educated and best connected workforce in Australia to diversify and export more into national and international markets, through programs such as digital Canberra and study Canberra.

On a macroeconomic level, the government is creating the conditions for growth through our comprehensive tax reform agenda, and we will be continuing with that over this term. There are changes which support business investment and innovation, particularly in the housing and construction sectors.

In relation to fairness and opportunity, our economic reforms and infrastructure investments also hold to the deeply held Labor values of fairness and opportunity. Canberra is a city that values these things and for our government they are both social and economic imperatives. That is why Canberra’s transformation includes reforms

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