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Bright future for the National Capital.

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Media Release



Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government



14 May 1998




The Federal Minister for Territories, Alex Somlyay, today briefed ACT business leaders on the impact of the Commonwealth budget on the National Capital, saying that 'the future is bright for the National Capital and its region.'


Mr Somlyay said 'This budget demonstrates that the Coalition's commitment to the National Capital as the seat of government and centre of the nation's public administration is firm and multi-faceted.'


'The Coalition is funding a range of initiatives to enhance our national institutions:


• we are providing $154 million for National Museum of Australia and the Au stralian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies;

• we have extended the program of restoration of National Capital Assets to the year 2001-2002, making a total investment of $25m from 1997-2002; and

• in a major new initiative the National Capital Authority will be developing a master plan for the Parliamentary Triangle, to develop a vision for the heart for the National Capital.'


Mr Somlyay also noted that 'the Coalition is delivering infrastructure vital for the future economic dev elopment and diversification of the National Capital region. Important Commonwealth decisions on major issues such as the sale of the Airport, the facilitation of the Fast Train project and the upgrading of the 'missing link' section of the Federal Highway between Sutton and Watson have laid the foundation for growth in the ACT.'


'The Budget announcement of a slowing in the rate of APS downsizing should be seen as a significant boost to community and business confidence' Mr Somlyay said.


Although the Budget papers forecast a loss of 9 000 APS jobs in 1998-99, it is important to recognise that most of these losses will involve the transfer of resources to agencies like the Centrelink and Employment National.


Mr Somlyay reported that 'Our current estimates show that


• there may be 1 200 APS jobs losses in the ACT during 1998-99, not 3 000 as reported in The Canberra Times on Wednesday;

• the figure of 1 200 includes a pro-rata proportion of the 1 500 ACT defence personnel already scheduled to depart un der the Defence Reform Programme over the next few years; and

• the forecast APS job losses for the current year (1997-98) has been revised down from 16 500 to 12 200 - with an estimated 1/3 (or 4 100) of these losses occurring in the ACT.'


'Although no -one welcomes job losses of any magnitude, the picture is nowhere near as bleak as some are seeking to portray' said Mr Somlyay.


'In fact' said Mr Somlyay 'the overall Budget settings have established a strong climate for business growth, with low inflation, low interest rates and a $2.7 billion Budget surplus.'


Mr Somlyay said that 'the ACT community will continue to benefit from the Howard Government's sound economic management. Economic growth for Canberra for the December quarter was 1.1% and business expects 2.7% growth in the year to December 1998. This growth has produced positive outcomes for the ACT community:


• 157 800 Canberrans now have jobs, near an all time high;

• trend unemployment is 6.9%; the last time it was lower was in 1991; and

• the number of unemployed people (11 600) is at its lowest since 1994.


Mr Somlyay concluded that 'The Coalition's commitment to the National Capital is demonstrably strong and the local economy is maturing in a way that points a bright future. The ACT c ommunity has every reason to face its future with confidence.'



Further information:    Graeme Hallet (Minister's Office) 02-6277 7060