In an effort to boost an ailing economy being distabilised by Covid-19, the ACT government gave the biggest budget allocation to infrastructure development.
This is the biggest infrastructure program in the public sector’s history of ACT.
ACT government has pumped $5 billion to will support more than 15,300 construction jobs. The government plans to create more than 250,000 jobs in the local economy by 2025. Meanwhile 250 projects and 14 programs have already taken off the ground.
The capital investment priorities continue to be health, education, public transport, public housing, climate action, and urban renewal, said ACT Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr.
“Interest rates are the lowest since Federation, providing a once-in-a-century opportunity for the Government to build sustainable, productivity-improving, and growth-enabling infrastructure to prepare our city for the future,” Mr Barr said.
Master Builders ACT welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement, but also called on the government to invest more in apprenticeships.
$877 million will be spent on ACT health and wellbeing infrastructure over the next five years, to 2025-26. This will include a Cancer Research Centre at the Canberra Hospital, infrastructure upgrades at Calvary Public Hospital, planning for a new carpark at the Canberra Hospital, and planning and design for a future hospital in Canberra’s north.
Schools and TAFE
Over the next five years, $950 million will be spent on CIT and education infrastructure. Margaret Hendry School will be expanded, and a new high school built in Taylor. The funding also covers nine new modular learning centres, design works for a new primary school at Strathnairn, a modernised Narrabundah College, road infrastructure for East Gungahlin High School, and modernising Garran Primary School.
$935 million will be spent on housing and community support and safety, including more than $580 million to grow and renew public housing stock.
$1.4 billion will be spent to upgrade Canberra’s sustainable and connected transport system, roads and paths, and improve active travel routes. Projects include the first light rail stop for stage two of light rail to Woden, detailed design and construction of the Sulwood Drive shared path, and the duplication of William Hovell Drive.
$8.5 million will be allocated in 2021-22 to upgrade and improve major sporting and other venues. This includes consultation and planning works to expand Exhibition Park in Canberra, a new video replay board and upgrades to GIO Stadium, a new video score board and upgrades to Manuka Oval, and a feasibility study for a second sealed access road for the National Arboretum Canberra.
$2.9 million over two years will also be allocated to design carpark upgrades at Stromlo Forest Park.
Emergency services will receive more than $12 million to upgrade their facilities, including refurbishing the Gungahlin Joint Emergency Services Centre. A new fire-fighting tanker has been purchased costing $550,000 and fitted out with safety equipment ready for the summer bushfire season.
Community facilities, parks and playgrounds
Planning and upgrades for new community facilities across Canberra include:
- $18.7 million to upgrade local shopping centres
- $9 million to progress the Throsby Home of Football
- $300,000 over two yearsfor a feasibility and design study for community facilities in Gungahlin
- $1.65 million over three years to design the Southern Memorial Park
- $15 million over three years to build a facility for Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation at its Wanniassa location
- $5 million to continue the Healthy Waterways Project
- $3 million over four years for a new community recreation park in Casey
- $600,000 for improved and new amenities at Yerrabi Pond District Park
- $2.8 million over two years for design and consultation to transform the Acton Waterfront into a place for people in the heart of the city
- $5.3 million for new or upgraded play spaces in Kaleen, Ngunnawal, Chisholm, Gordon, Lyons, and Aranda.
Public Trading Enterprises
Public Trading Enterprises will invest $1.4 billion over the next five years, on top of a $5 billion investment by the General Government Sector. This will result in a record $1.3 billion in 2021-22 and $6.4 billion over the five years to 2025-26.
Using the infrastructure pipeline to boost the economic recovery was a strategic and sensible investment, said Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins; every $1 invested in building and construction would generate $3 of economic benefit.
“The Chief Minister is positioning the construction industry to lead the ACT’s economic recovery like it did in 2020 after the initial COVID lockdown,” he said.
“To ensure the full economic benefits of this announcement are reached at a local level, the ACT Government should prioritise local companies to deliver these projects, and make a significant investment in local skills.
“The ACT Government provides the lowest funding for many construction industry trade apprenticeships. Infrastructure projects present an opportunity to leave a legacy of a more skilled local workforce; however, without an adequate investment in trade careers, this opportunity will likely be taken up by other states.”