Long Term Infrastructure Vision Missing from ACT Budget 2019-20
The 2019-20 ACT Budget reveals the Territory’s economy will increasingly rely on the success of the private sector, in particular the property and construction sector, to return the Territory to future budget surpluses. This assumption comes at a time when the ABS building approval figures show that total dwelling approvals have declined 19.9% over 12 months to March 2019.
Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins, said “The 2019-20 ACT Budget contains a $770 million capital works program for 2019-20, higher fees and charges to fund basic government planning and building services, and stamp duty reform for eligible first home buyers.”
“The 2019-20 ACT Budget has failed to set out a long term infrastructure vision for the city, instead outlining a gradual decline in capital works funding from close to $1 Billion in 2016-17 to $581 million in 2022-23”, said Mr Hopkins.
Mr Hopkins said, “Without a long term infrastructure plan which delivers infrastructure ahead of new development, local contractors cannot plan to grow their workforce, invest in training their staff and gear up to deliver major projects.”
“Without a long term infrastructure plan prepared in consultation with the combined talents of local community, local industry, utility providers, and adjoining NSW local Councils, the ACT risks missing out on Federal infrastructure funding”, said Mr Hopkins.
“The MBA welcomes initiatives in the budget which will provide more resources to improve building quality and six additional development assessment staff, however unfortunately these measures will be funded through $3.1 million in increased license fees, building levy and DA fees”, said Mr Hopkins.
Mr Hopkins said, “Overall the contribution from real estate taxes, including land tax, rates and stamp duty will increase by $62 million, from 48.9% of the Territory’s total tax take in 2018-19 to 49.5% in 2019-20”.
“Budgeted capital works projects such as the SPIRE Health project, the Monaro Highway upgrade and new public schools are welcomed, but their progress to actual delivery on the ground must be fast-tracked so that the economic and local industry benefits are realised”, he said.
Mr Hopkins said, “The four year indicative land release forecasts a 8% reduction in the release of new land from 17,000 announced last year, to 15,600 forecast for 2019-20. This announcement comes after the budget reveals the Suburban Land Agency fell short of its budgeted dividend by $40.2 million”.
“To better address the changing needs of the local housing market, the MBA would like to see Government make more englobo land sales or enter more JV partnerships so that the responsiveness and innovation of the private sector can be optimised”, said Mr Hopkins.
Mr Hopkins said, “The Future Skills for Future Jobs funding will help increase Australian Apprenticeship commencements in the ACT, in high need industries such as building and construction.”
“The MBA has previously been successful in receiving funding under similar programs which have boosted the number of women working in trade careers and the civil construction sector”, he said.