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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 May 2015) . . Page.. 1699 ..

MR BARR: I thank Ms Fitzharris for the question. Undoubtedly, last night’s budget was eagerly anticipated by Canberrans, with an eye to their job—their business prospects or their entitlements and transfer payments from the commonwealth all being matters of concern for Canberrans.

Canberrans also expressed a great deal of concern about the future of health funding, and that undoubtedly was resolved in a negative way from the announcements last night. We are in a position now where the commonwealth have stopped kicking Canberrans but they have left us battered and bruised by the side of the road, and there is nothing really in the budget that will dramatically impact upon the territory’s economic fortunes.

There are a number of positive measures contained within the budget that will assist small business in the territory, and I welcome, acknowledge and support those initiatives. I do note that these issues are ones that are restored and that were previously offered under the former government. But I welcome their restoration and expansion in certain areas. And that will be a positive for small business.

From the public sector side, there was an expectation in the territory of largely the same staffing profile. About 65 jobs are expected to be lost, which is not good but it is certainly a better situation than the many thousands that were stripped out in last year’s budget.

Perhaps disappointingly in the detail, whilst the commonwealth are looking to save money and have smaller government, they are spending money on the fit-out and leasing of a new commonwealth office building in Gosford. There are plenty of high quality, empty commonwealth office buildings in this city that were formerly occupied by the commonwealth and that they are paying rent on. It is beyond me why they would be fitting out a building in Gosford when there is plenty of opportunity here in Canberra.

Opposition members interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, members!

MR BARR: From the perspective of health funding, the real sleeper is the significant reduction in health funding for the states and territories from 2017-18 onwards and the particular impact that that has will have in the ACT. We will be hearing a lot more about that between now and the next federal election. This will undoubtedly be a significant election issue. It will not just be me making this point; it will be the Liberal premiers and chief minister who will be standing side by side with the Labor premiers and chief minister against this health funding cut.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Chief Minister, what are some of the specific effects of the commonwealth budget on the ACT budget?

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