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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Canberra Liberals: Budget will lead to higher rates, failing services

Today’s Budget does not outline a clear vision for our future, Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee believes; instead, she argued, the Labor-Greens Government has delivered more broken promises, more rates and tax increases, and more health and education failures.

“This Budget again ensures Canberrans pay some of the highest rates and taxes in the country, while delivering a continuing decline in key health, education and transport services not just today, but well into the future,” Ms Lee said.

“This Budget has ambitious growth projections, while delivering four years of deficits that could see Canberra not returning to surplus for more than a decade.

“While Canberra has performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to other states and territories, many families and small businesses are still struggling. Slugging them with tax increases in four months’ time will make matters worse.”

Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced a temporary residential rate freeze and a rebate of $150 to all residential properties in the ACT from 1 July last year.

“Despite promising a rates reprieve, 60,000 Canberrans were hit with rates rises last year, and now they want to increase rates again,” Ms Lee said. “Commercial rates will likely continue growing with double-digit increases in 2021-22.”

Rates are expected to rise 3.75% from 1 July, Mr Barr said, as part of the ACT Government’s 20-year plan to modernise the Territory’s taxation system, abolishing inefficient and unfair taxes; the rates increase has replaced insurance taxes and stamp duty.

Mr Barr said the Government would continue its hardship concession program, and that it may apply a further rebate for the coming fiscal year 2021–22. “We will make an assessment based on the state of the economy at the decision-making point, which would be the middle of the year.”

Ms Lee continued: “Despite promising to fix waiting times within nine months, this Budget embeds the current problems and sees more delays to our hospital infrastructure continue, with the Canberra Hospital Expansion running years behind schedule.

“Approximately 70 schools plagued with hazardous materials continue to be neglected by Labor and the Greens, once again failing to take immediate action to ensure the safety of children and staff in our schools. Instead, there is $17 million for more demountables.

“Despite Labor and the Greens’ commitments to deliver more affordable housing, the Budget does not provide any new funding for the 400 affordable houses promised. Further, due to a shortage of land for new homes in the coming years, the Government land supply dividend will go from $289 million this year to just $14 million in 2022–23. As a result of this, we will see housing and rental affordability further slip away.”

The Canberra Liberals offered their solutions to the housing crisis earlier this week.

“Canberrans deserve much better than what they are getting from this Government, and it is clear from the Budget handed down today they will continue to get below par government services, broken promises, and delays,” Ms Lee concluded.

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