Taxes, fees rise as ACT goes into deficit

Taxes and fees will rise in the ACT, as Stanhope Government goes into deficit to fund infrastructure

By Brad Gardner

Taxes and fees will rise in the ACT, as the Stanhope Government turns to deficit spending to fund crucial infrastructure projects.

In delivering the Budget yesterday, Treasurer Katy Gallagher announced parking fines, traffic infringements and court fines will increase, adding that the global financial crisis has cost the Territory $1.1 billion in lost revenue.

"We are increasing some fees and levies…in order to support key policy outcomes and to keep pace with increases in costs," Gallagher says.

"We are meeting the challenges that these demanding financial times are placing on us, and we are doing so in a measured and deliberate manner."

Despite a forecast $82.2 million deficit in 2009-10, the Government has allocated $274 million to new infrastructure projects.

This includes $83 million for the Gungahlin Drive extension, $21 million for the Clarrie Hermes Drive extension and $10.5 million for the upgrade to Mulligans Flat Road.

Another $12.5 million over two years will be spent building John Gorton Drive, which, along with other infrastructure commitments, will increase the Government’s debt levels.

Infrastructure investment will be bolstered by federally funded initiatives, with $28 million being spent over five years on the Roads to Recovery program.

Another $37.5 million will come from the Federal Government under the Building Australia program, while the ACT will also receive $100,000 for highway maintenance as part of the Nation Building Program.

Gallagher says the Government is intent on pushing ahead with its infrastructure program, as the forward estimates forecast a $112.4 million deficit in 2010-11 and a $164.9 million deficit the following year.

"Our previous commitments to infrastructure continue to be rolled out across this Budget. We continue to invest in the productive capacity of our economy," she says.

The Government predicts a $152.2 million deficit in 2012-13, but Gallagher says the Budget will return to surplus by 2015-16.

"Our budget recovery and the requisite adjustment task will take time," she says.

Despite the economic gloom, the Government will continue to invest in training programs for young people, with an emphasis on school-based apprenticeships.

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