Page 63 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 February 2018
As the budget improves we are also making sure that the most vulnerable Canberrans see this benefit first. The spiking cost of electricity did hit many households hard last year. Whilst the ACT’s shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 will certainly help insulate our city from future volatility, we understand that many Canberrans, particularly pensioners, will be worrying about their bills in the year ahead. That is why we are increasing the utilities concession by $50 this year to help eligible households meet their rising cost of living. This will bring the total payment available to $654 a year, which comes directly off people’s electricity bills to reduce their household costs.
Last year it came to the government’s attention that some Canberrans who are amongst the lowest income and most vulnerable people in our city were missing out on the concession because they did not have accounts directly with a utility provider. As a result, for the first time we are also making the utilities concession available to residents of long-stay caravan parks and aged care homes with embedded electricity networks. We are addressing this because this is not a community that leaves people behind.
In the 2017-18 budget we started delivering on a significant number of our election commitments, including major new investments in health infrastructure through building the SPIRE centre at Canberra Hospital, expanding the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and delivering more walk-in centres.
We delivered funding for classroom and facility upgrades at local schools across the city, funding for the expansion of schools in Gungahlin to keep up with population growth, and a new school in the Molonglo Valley. We have made significant investments in the planning and procurement of the second stage of light rail to Woden, the next stage in Canberra’s integrated public transport network. With this budget update, Canberrans can see that we are continuing to deliver on the commitments we took to the 2016 election.
The budget update brings forward the rollout of laptops to students in every Canberra public high school. Students from years 7 to 11 have already begun receiving their new Chromebooks, and all public students will have their devices for the 2019 school year. This will ensure that students have the right equipment to thrive at school and to gain the critical literacy they need in this digital age.
We are also supporting the upgrade of Circuit Mark Webber, which I mentioned in question time, which, as members will be aware, is the home of the Canberra Kart Racing Club. We are extending the track to bring it up to an international standard. Our high quality community sports facilities and the local clubs that use them make Canberra so liveable, and we are pleased to be delivering on this commitment in the budget update.
This budget update maps out a range of new investments and new work for the government to undertake, on top of what is a big delivery agenda for 2018. That is because we are determined to take every opportunity to invest in Canberra; to grow the services and infrastructure that our growing city needs; and to ensure that