Page 277 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 February 2018
outlined in the budget update are important and timely initiatives for this growing community. As I have mentioned more than once this week, the level of population growth and the significant growth in the territory economy and labour market necessitate significant investment in additional services.
To quickly recap, obviously investing in more surgical procedures through the health system, recruiting a new ambulance crew and additional relief staff and, importantly, expanding the reportable conduct scheme to help keep kids safe are at the forefront of initiatives contained within the second appropriation bill that I tabled this morning.
I think it is also important that we deliver a boost to the energy concession for low income earners. The initiatives in the education portfolio, together with the full range of new spending measures proposed in the appropriation bill, are indeed timely. Its quick passage through this Assembly in next month’s sittings will be important to deliver those initiatives in this fiscal year.
MS CHEYNE: Chief Minister, what does the budget review show about the territory’s debt and borrowings, even as the government is making further investments in local services and infrastructure?
MR BARR: Our general government sector net debt for this year is now estimated to be $371 million lower than expected at the budget due to the higher balance of funds held in cash and investments and a lower borrowing requirement. I can say that this shrinks the territory’s debt to gross state product ratio to four per cent. We retain, of course, a AAA credit rating, and the government seeks to balance its long-term infrastructure investments against the metrics of a AAA-rated jurisdiction.
MS ORR: Chief Minister, how is the government balancing investment in Canberra while maintaining a strong budget position and retaining our AAA credit rating?
MR BARR: There has been a process of steadily and patiently strengthening the territory’s budget position over time, particularly responding to the Mr Fluffy crisis and, of course, the implications the 2014 federal budget had for the territory economy. We have maintained a consistent approach to seeking to balance the territory budget whilst at the same time investing in infrastructure and providing additional support in a number of key areas of ACT government responsibility.
Members are aware that more than half of our budget is invested in health and education services, and that will continue to be the case into the future. But we have been very clear about our plans to continue to invest in this growing community, to meet our election commitments and to raise revenue fairly and equitably. And that is the approach the government will continue to take over the balance of this parliamentary term.
MS LEE: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. Minister, your directorate enrolment projection for Aranda Primary School for 2016 was 506 students, but the February 2016 census showed that