Page 2634 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 15 August 2017
That the Assembly take note of the paper
I present the government’s response to the estimates committee report. The government thanks the committee for scrutinising proposed expenditure for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The select committee’s report touches on a wide range of issues, the outcome of which has been 158 recommendations to government. I will further discuss the government’s response to those recommendations in a moment. I also wish to advise the Assembly that the government responded to the observations of Pegasus Economics on 28 July 2017. A copy of that government response was provided to the chair of the estimates committee, and I have tabled that here this morning for the benefit of members.
The government went to the last election with a positive plan for renewal across our city, and the 2017-18 budget sees this plan being put into action. We see renewal of Canberra’s schools, hospitals, our infrastructure, our neighbourhoods and public spaces. The budget ensures that our city keeps getting better for all Canberrans. This budget maintains the high levels of investment announced in previous budgets, investing even more in better schools, local health care and infrastructure to keep our city moving. The budget delivers for the local economy. The government will continue making it easier for local firms to do business and attract more visitors to our city to boost our local tourism, hospitality and retail industries.
The government is also continuing with tax reform—continuing to make our tax system fairer, simpler and more efficient. We have renewed our commitment in the 2017-18 budget to adhere to a fiscal strategy that achieves an operating balance over time, offsetting temporary deficits with surpluses in other periods. This strategy has given the government the flexibility to deal with circumstances as they arise, whilst at the same time continuing to provide the services that Canberrans need and investing in our city’s future.
Our AAA credit rating remains in place, although we, together with New South Wales and Victoria, have been shifted to a negative outlook as a consequence of the ratings downgrade applied to the commonwealth government in July 2016. No state or territory government can hold a credit rating higher than the commonwealth government. In the 2017-18 budget the territory government is continuing to support our economy whilst delivering appropriate services and building a strong operating balance over the medium term.
Turning now to the estimates committee report, the committee presented 158 recommendations, which cover a broad range of matters—not unexpected—across the spectrum of ACT government service delivery. It is not my intention to go through all 158 recommendations in this speech. I am sure members will be pleased to hear that. The government’s response serves this purpose, and I have tabled that today.
I can say that overall the government has agreed to or noted the majority of the recommendations included in the committee’s report. Specifically, we have agreed to