Canberra ignored amid ‘pork-barrelling’: Barr


Mr Barr accused the government of openly pork-barrelling at the capital’s expense by decentralisating government agencies.

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However, he expressed gratitude that the national institutions received some extra funds after being “cut to the bone through successive federal budgets”. He said he looked forward to a new Labor government giving Canberra a fairer deal.

‘Strong economic management’

However, Liberal senator Zed Seselja said Canberrans would share the budget’s overall benefits, such as lower taxes and extra funding for essential services.

He highlighted income-tax relief and the asset write-off scheme for small businesses, as well as funds to widen William Slim Drive and an extra $9.7 million for other roads.

“This budget is about easing cost-of-living pressures, guaranteeing essential services and building new congestion-busting infrastructure to ensure families in the ACT can get home easier and safer.”

He said the spending was possible because of the government’s “strong economic and budget
management”.

More cuts to come

Meanwhile, the Labor MP for Fenner, Andrew Leigh, said voters now had a choice between two very different infrastructure plans.

“Really, the only Canberra project is the duplication of the William Slim Drive, which is welcome but it’s only $20 million.

“It constrasts strongly with Labor’s $200 million commitment to stage two of the light rail.”

The Labor MP also expressed concern about the secrecy shrouding the Finance Department’s “mystery Canberra land sale”. The budget papers refer to the sale but say the details are confidential.

The papers also declare a $190 million spending cut in 2019-20 that is “yet to be announced”, followed by a further $350 million cut the following year.

Dr Leigh said that, based on the government’s record, this would likely be a “foreign aid cut or a public service cut”.

“I think that would worry many Canberrans.”

Markus Mannheim edits The Public Sector Informant and writes regularly about government.

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