Page 2067 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 7 June 2017

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many people in the community, including the volunteers, staff and board at the Belconnen Arts Centre, as well as there being huge community backing for that. I am very pleased that the $15 million will include new workshop, performance and exhibition spaces. I am sure it is going to be a great delight for everyone to experience what that will be like when it is realised, and it will be realised because of what has been committed in the budget.

There is also $16 million to operationalise the University of Canberra public hospital. A lot of people have been watching with great interest to see what is happening with the public hospital. It is growing day by day; the building is looking fantastic. Of course, we have to staff that building: we have to make sure we have people who are clinically trained and ready to go once that building opens in mid-2018. That $16 million will see us there.

Something I am particularly excited about as a Belconnen town centre resident is the Belco bikeway, a separated bikepath which will help connect the major landmarks in the town centre and also help connect the town centre to the neighbouring suburbs and, importantly, the University of Canberra. At the moment, the University of Canberra kind of has its back to the Belconnen town centre; the separated bikepath will do a great deal to help connect it. We have a major road that is currently separating the suburbs of Page and Florey from the Belconnen town centre, as well as Lawson. The separated bikepath is going to make a really big difference to that, connecting so many suburbs to the heart of Belconnen, the town centre. On top of that, we have early planning for the expansion of Bindubi Street and planning upgrades to William Hovell Drive.

Our schools are also doing quite well out of this budget. Lake Ginninderra college, Aranda Primary School and Melba Copland are sharing in the $85 million for school classroom and facility upgrades that are happening across Canberra. On top of that, we have $5.9 million to continue Belconnen High School’s modernisation, and that is on top of $20 million that has already been invested in that school. It will include equipment upgrades and refurbishment, including replacing some roofs and enhancing some of the technology spaces. I know that the students and staff there are very much looking forward to it, and I thank them for the tour that they provided me and Minister Berry a few weeks ago.

In addition to that—wait: there is more!—we have a new black rapid bus route between Belconnen and Gungahlin. For the first two months, there will be free travel on that. And Page will share with the suburb of Hughes in $1.5 million for better footpaths, crossings and traffic islands, making it a more age-friendly suburb.

It is pretty exciting what we are going to see happening in Belconnen over the next little while. Belconnen is a strong, vibrant community. These budget initiatives will ensure that Belconnen continues to remain a great place to live, a great place to work and a great place to play.

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