The ACT Government has this week released its 2017–18 Budget Review, updating the territory on its economic performance and outlook for the current financial year and beyond.
With strong economic growth and a number of key policy initiatives announced by the Government over the past six months, Canberrans can look forward to the benefits of a territory that is seeing the end of a tough few years.
This is good news, particularly for the almost 7,000 new Canberrans who have moved to the city in the past year. Canberra has been elevated to the status of world city in recent years, with accolades such as being named the world’s most liveable city by the OECD in 2014, and world’s third best city to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018.
Population growth in Canberra is being matched by growth in jobs, with over 10,000 new jobs created in the past year. According to the Budget Review over 80 per cent of these new jobs are full-time and have emerged in a diverse range of sectors, from education and healthcare to tourism, retail and professional services.
This growth in jobs is being driven by sustained economic expansion—in 2016–17 the ACT saw the highest growth rate of any state or territory, at 4.6 per cent growth in reals terms. The revised growth forecasts in the Budget Review are also positive, with expected growth of 4 per cent throughout the rest of 2017–18.
Major projects and policy initiatives announced by the ACT Government in the financial year so far will see real benefits for Canberrans, ensuring everyone will advance from this upward trend.
Partnering with the governments of South Australia and the Northern Territory, the ACT Government is working to develop Australia’s space industry—providing opportunities in the Defence, cyber security and space technology sectors.
Also boosting Canberra’s reputation as the knowledge capital is a memorandum of understanding with the University of New South Wales, which will examine the possibility of creating a second major campus in Canberra. The influx of up to 10,000 students will build on education as the ACT’s largest export.
Infrastructural investment in Canberra is supporting the outlook of growth from the Budget Review, like the light rail from Gungahlin to the city. Stage 2 of that project is currently being refined, and will see the light rail network extended to the Woden Town Centre. Community consultation across the next year will determine the exact stops once a route has been selected.
Canberra will also see new infrastructure driving growth with initiatives like the ACT Government’s $608m Public Housing Renewal Program, which is set to see 420 additional properties completed by the end of 2018, on top of the existing 661.
Canberrans should also be aware of increases to services outlined in the Budget Review, including: cutting waiting times on surgeries, hiring more paramedics for the ACT Ambulance Service, the rollout of laptops to all Canberra public secondary school students, and investment in courts and community safety.
Maintaining the ACT’s AAA credit rating will remain at the heart of the government’s budget strategy into the 2018–19 financial year.