ACT Budget 2024-25

On Tuesday 25 June 2024, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr delivered the 2024-25 ACT Budget. The 2024-25 Budget prioritises targeted cost-of-living relief, housing choice, access and affordability, and building infrastructure for the growing Territory.

The 2024-25 Budget is set in a climate of slower national and global economic activity, however, delivers more public health services, targets cost of living relief, invests in improving housing choice, access, and affordability, and builds vital infrastructure for the territory.

The Budget highlights strategic investments in health, including more services in hospitals and the community health network. Also included in the budget is an increase in housing supply, supporting more social and affordable housing, and cutting stamp duty. 

A further investment in the Territory’s education system is also evident in the budget. Continued support for families through the Sustainable Household Scheme and other initiatives in the Integrated Energy Plan also continue to assist in the ACT’s transition to cleaner households and energy across the Territory.

The 2024-25 Budget can be found here.

The Treasurer’s Budget Address can be found here.

Budget Outlook

The ACT’s overall fiscal outlook shows a predicted deficit of $442.7 million for the 2023-24 fiscal year has now been blown out to a predicted $830.8 million. However, the ACT economy continues to remain relatively positive, with GSP forecast to grow by 2¾ per cent in real terms during 2024-25 before picking up to 3¼ per cent in 2025-26. 

Growth in wages and the Commonwealth’s stage 3 tax cuts are expected to support household incomes and consumption growth across the remainder of the forward estimates. Strong employment growth and activity in the Australian public service also means the ACT economy is well placed to manage economic headwinds, particularly in comparison to other states and territories, continuing the growth trend for the ACT of the past three decades.

This current term of government has seen significant economic and social challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and geopolitical tensions. Despite this, the ACT economy is performing well and the Government has continued to support jobs, provide employment security, implement taxation reforms to reduce inefficient and unfair taxes and provide high-quality and targeted services from a sustainable revenue base. 

Population growth in the ACT is expected to ease in 2024-25 in response to lower national net overseas migration. With one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia, the ACT economy remains resilient and in a favourable position to manage the risks and uncertainties we continue to face. 

The Headline Net Operating Balance continues to improve across the forward estimates, with the ACT maintaining a sustainable fiscal position over the medium term.

Fiscal Target Outcomes

Key Budget Indicators

2024-25 Budget Commitments

The 2024-25 Budget includes new initiatives worth more than $920 million over four years for health and public health care, mental health and community wellbeing, and health infrastructure. This brings expenditure on health and community wellbeing to $2.6 billion in 2024-25 and the investment in health infrastructure to more than $1 billion over the next five years.

The 2024-25 Budget funds:

  • $131 million for improving Canberra’s health infrastructure; funding
    • Works to complement the construction of the New North Canberra Hospital.
    • The second phase of the Canberra Hospital Master Plan.
    • The construction of two new community health centres in North Gungalin and the Inner South, and early design work for an additional centre in West Belconnen.
  • $78 million for better care in the community; allowing
    • More than 137 new nurses and midwives to work across the Canberra Hospital, North Canberra Hospital, and the University of Canberra Hospital.
  • $700 million for investing in public health care;
    • Additional endoscopy, cataract, elective and emergency surgeries, and additional support for maternity and neonatology services.
    • The implementation of Voluntary Assisted Dying and ongoing support for the service,
  • $10.5 million to expanding Mental Health Services; funding
    • Ongoing funding for the second Police, Ambulance, and Clinician Early Response Team (PACER), a multi-disciplinary team which provides safe assessment and treatment of people experiencing acute mental health crises.

The Budget includes new initiatives worth $100 million over four years to support education and skills. This brings expenditure on education and skills to $1.8 billion in 2024-25 and the investment in education and skills infrastructure to more than $1.1 billion over the next five years.

The 2024-25 Budget funds:

  • $37 million for investing in public education and early years
    • A continuation of the Government’s investment into Early Childhood Education in the ACT, with the rollout of Early Childhood Teacher registration and the waiving of the registration fee for the first two years to encourage uptake.
    • A reduction in workload pressures for teachers to address recommendations from the teacher Shortage Taskforce.
  • $41 million to support skills development
    • Increased support to the Future of Education Fund to help meet increasing demand.
    • The provision of breakfast and lunch for three days a week at five ACT public schools nominated through the Meals in School Pilot Program.
    • The expansion of the dual apprenticeship and ACT senior secondary certification, HeadStart, to include an additional cohort of 50 students.
  • $22 million for new and improved schools
    • Various refurbishments and renovations will take place across ACT schools with additional equipment allocations to ensure the delivery of contemporary and flexible learning environments.
  • $24.9 million over the next four years to support literacy and numeracy initiatives.
    • Strong Foundations will contribute to ensuring all ACT public schools have access to consistent, high-quality literacy and numeracy education. The program aims to reduce teacher workloads through more system support and enables staff to move between ACT public schools without learning new learning and working systems.

The Government will invest in $36 million over four years to boost Canberra’s visitor economy and further economic development priorities outlined in CBR Switched On (Launched in March 2022, and outlines the Government’s economic priorities), including:

  • Continuing and expanding resourcing within Access Canberra to progress Government’s night-time economy reforms.
  • Continuing the Brand Canberra Program to support the growth of the ACT’s tourism industry and visitor economy.
  • Supporting programs that will drive international and domestic tourism and grow the ACT economy.
  • Supporting local food production, of community growing education activities and hands-on training opportunities.

The ACT 2024-25 Infrastructure Investment Program delivers $1.4 billion and an additional $8.1 billion over the five years to 2028-29 for the services needed while laying a foundation for population and jobs growth.

The updated ACT Infrastructure Plan includes seven sectors which cover all aspects of government policies, including:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Transport
  • Entertainment, Arts and Sports
  • City Services, Recreation and Community Facilities
  • Housing, Land Release and City Planning; and
  • Climate Action, Energy and Environment.

The Plan adopts a staged approach to planning and delivering infrastructure needs to achieve optimal timing and funding of investment. The investment priorities in the Plan work in synergy to provide for a growing Canberra with a focus on investing in enabling infrastructure and seeking to drive private sector investment into renewal precincts, as well as supporting new housing and commercial opportunities.

The 2024-25 Budget expands the Government’s commitment to supporting communities to deal with current cost of living pressures, including:

  • Increasing the Electricity, Water and Gas Rebate for the financial year by $50, from an annual rebate of $750 to $800 (approximately 43,800 households).
  • Providing a one-off payment of $250 to apprentices and trainee, who are still among the lower income earners relative to others in Canberra.
  • Rebates of up to 50% for pensioners on their general rates and a $98 rebate for Police, Fire, and Emergency Services Levy.
  • Extending the Rental Relief Fund to assist those experiencing rental stress or financial hardship.
  • Increasing access to stamp duty concessions for first homebuyers.
  • Increasing the Future of Education Equity Fund in 2024 for families with financial hardship impacting access to and engagement in the education system for ACT students.
  • Increasing the value of vouchers available through the Utilities Hardship Fund.
  • Providing additional funding for community organisations to ensure the ongoing delivery of essential services to vulnerable Canberrans.
  • Increasing funding support for emergency material and financial aid programs and food relief services
  • Raising the Funeral Assistance Scheme assets threshold for eligible recipients from $2000 to $8000.

The Budget includes new initiatives worth more than $285 million over four years, which include a mix of immediate financial relief measures as well as continued commitment to increased long-term social housing stock target. An additional $20 million for the Affordable Housing Project Fund aids in meeting the Government’s target of 600 affordable rental homes by 2026-26. The Budget includes;

  • $118 million to strengthen social housing assistance
    • Funding for repairs, maintenance and upgrades of public housing stock as well as tenancy service.
    • Additional funding to expand specialist homelessness service capacity, to respond to increased demand for homelessness services in the ACT.
  • $80 million for housing choice and quality
    • An increase in housing stock across the board with a range of new initiatives designed to increase access, choice and affordability.
    • Increasing the Home Buyer Concession Scheme income eligibility threshold from $170,000 to $250,000 and temporarily extending off- the-plan duty concessions to properties up to $1,000,000.
  • $87 million for increasing affordable rental housing and home ownership
    • Additional capacity for the Rent Relief Fund to provide a capped amount of financial assistance for up to four weeks’ rent to low-income private renters in rental stress of financial hardship.

The Affordable Housing Project Fund will have a significant investment boost from $60 million to $80 million, with the additional $20 million to help meet the ACT Government’s commitment to grow affordable rental properties by 600 homes.

The 2024-25 Budget includes new initiatives worth more than $85 million over four years for community support, social inclusion, justice and safety. This brings total expenditure on these services to $1.480 billion in 2024-25 and funding for enabling infrastructure to more than $217 million over five years.

  • Enhancements to youth justice, child and youth protection, early childhood services and targeted justice interventions.
  • Support to frontline responses to sexual violence, including the development of a recovery model for complex trauma.
  • Expanded programs to support young adults previously in out of home care arrangements to transition to independent living. 
  • The continuation of programs to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, including the continuation of key justice interventions to reduce overrepresentation of First Nations people in the ACT criminal justice system as well as the establishment of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Establishment and Expansion Fund to build capacity across the sector. 
  • The continued provision of short-term accommodation and wraparound services for those leaving prison. 
  • Additional support for the ACT’s community based legal assistance sector, including funding to establish a First Nations Graduate Program to work across the community legal sector. 
  • Supporting the full and equal participation in all aspects of community life of people with a disability. 

Domestic and family violence prevention initiatives are being funded with $12 million over four years to address domestic, family, and sexual violence including coercive control. Various institutes with experts specifically hired and tasked with reducing the risk of deaths from family violence as well as women’s crisis centres will all receive funding boosts.

The 2024-25 Budget includes new initiatives worth more than $273 million over four years to support the environment and climate action. This brings expenditure on climate, environment and transport to $1.1 billion in 2024-25.

The 2024-25 Budget includes: 

  • The electrification of all feasible community and public housing by 2030. 
  • A fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for our electricity network. 
  • Measures to phase out the use of gas appliances, support for the electrification of complex buildings, support for loans to owners’ corporations for EV charging infrastructure and studies to develop EV charging hubs in the ACT. 
  • Measures to improve water use efficiencies in the Territory. 
  • Grant payments to eligible vulnerable households for electrification upgrades. 
  • Continued support for our targeted tree planting program to maintain and expand the existing tree canopy across Canberra’s urban forest, to achieve 30 per cent urban tree canopy cover in Canberra by 2045. 

The Integrated Energy Plan will additionally help the Territory’s transition of homes, businesses, and transport away from fossil fuel use over the next two decades and help build a sustainable energy supply for the community. $58 million has been allocated over the decade for the Vulnerable Home Energy Support Scheme. The $5.2 million Community Partnership Electrification Program will also cover the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrade and electrification for around 350 low-income households.

Accessible services and places are prominent in the Budget, with $71 million over four years to focus on improving transport networks and active travel opportunities to help position Canberra as a liveable and sustainable city. This brings the Territory’s investment in enabling infrastructure to more than $2.2 billion over five years

  • Active travel improvements including small-scale path network improvements, line marking, construction of missing path links, lighting infill and design of high priority active travel links. 
  • A series of improvements to road networks across the Territory. 
  • Further resourcing for the design and construction of Light Rail Stage 2 including for light rail between Alinga Street and Commonwealth Park (Stage 2A) and progress the design of the next stage of light rail from Commonwealth Park to Woden (Stage 2B).

The 2024-25 Budget includes new initiatives worth more than $76 million over four years related to community infrastructure, venues and events, and sports. This brings total investment in associated infrastructure to $110 million in 2024-25 and more than $880 million over five years. This includes:

  • Further support for upgrades to the Phillip District Enclosed Oval. 
  • Commencement of construction of Stage 1 of the Stromlo Forest Park District Playing Fields. 
  • Early design works for a new or expanded Canberra Stadium, a new Convention and Entertainment Centre, a reopened Telstra Tower, a new Manuka Oval Eastern Grandstand Project, EPIC and Canberra City Pool.
  • Continued support to the operations at the National Arboretum Canberra; UC Stromlo Forest Park; GIO Stadium; and Manuka Oval. 
  • Continuation of design works for the expansion of the Belconnen Basketball Stadium and redevelopment of the Canberra Theatre. 

The budget prioritises the city’s ability to attract tourists and major events and support local artists, musicians, and related business. The 2024-25 Budget includes:

  • Upgrades to many community arts, cultural and heritage facilities including the Street Theatre in City West, the Megalo Print Studio, Watson Arts Centre, Canberra Contemporary Arts Space Manuka Gallery, Ainslie Arts Centre and Strathnairn Arts Centre.
  • Additional support to Canberra’s arts organisations and assist Arts Capital Limited to manage the Gorman Arts Centre through its refurbishment.

For more information, please contact Hawker Britton’s Managing Director, Simon Banks on [email protected].

Further Hawker Britton Occasional Papers are available here.

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