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1975/76 budget allocation for the ACT

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"The 1975/76 Budget allocation for the Department of the Capital Territory will continue to consolidate Australian Government social and welfare policies in the Australian Capital Territory," the Minister for the Capital Territory, Mr Gordon Bryant said tonight.

Mr Bryant was commenting on the Budget brought down by the Treasurer Mr Hayden.

"In accord, however, with the Government's planned attack on inflation and its consequent decision to contain Government expenditure, restraint will be needed in the territorial and municipal areas."

The total allocation is $79.09M; $78.159M for the A.C.T., $0.318M for Jervis Bay and $0.613M for Norfolk Island. This is $9.42M more than the amount spent in the 1974/75 financial year; an increase of 13.5%. The department had hoped for staff increases of more than 500 in 1975/76. Instead it is pegged to an increase of not more than 184.

Limits on staff growth and money for salaries meant that some projected schemes, such as the much needed new correctional systems, would have to be deferred. Certain charges would be increased in order to recoup a fair proportion of the administrative costs of

running the city.

Mr Bryant said that no one regretted more the need for higher -rates and charges and for lowered standards of services. The Department would, of course, use all available techniques to maintain an efficient operation at the lowest possible cost to the citizens who ultimately had

to fund the services.

These problems were the price that had to be paid for increasing wage and material costs. The city Budget was being squeezed by general world economic conditions. If next year's rates were to be held to present levels the Department and other agencies spending rates moneys

would have to be very tight-fisted and less responsive to demands for additional community services.

Mr Bryant said Commissioner for Housing loans were expected to total $26M in 1975-76. This amount would be made up of $22M provided in the Budget plus funds available from the A.C.T. Housing Trust Account.

Because of the proposed construction of about 1300 housing units this financial year by N.C.D.C., Mr Bryant forecast further improvements in the waiting times for government dwelle£e‘ particularly for three-bedroom houses.

Mr Bryant said the Canberra Theatre Trust grant would increase to $143,000 this year from $120,100 last year. Trust plans for a scheme to train theatre staff and to engage in entrepreneurial activities would have to be shelved. No allocation had been made to carry forward ~

Australia '75 into Australia '77. ~

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Expenditure on social welfare would rise from $ 1.179M last year to $1.595M this year to cover the rental rebate scheme (allocation increased by $162,000), the subsidy to the Emergency Housekeeper Service (allocation increased by $47,600), the care of childrens wards, non-wards and children

in the care of foster parents (allocation increased by $10,800), and assistance to other welfare organisations.

Payments of social welfare benefits in the A.C.T. would rise from $215,000 last financial year to $339,000 this year.

The initial equipment and running costs of the Adult Remand Centre in Belconnen would cost $41,700 in 1975-76, and the Department would make two government houses available to welfare bodies.

One, in Mawson would be used by the St. Vincent de Paul Society as a women's shelter and the other, in O'Connor, by the A.C.T. Society for Physically Handicapped Children.

Mr Bryant said the allocation of $355,000 for recreational, cultural and community activities was $147,258 higher than last year and included about $27,000 for fitness and coaching activities which formerly were the responsibility of the Department of Health. However money would not be available to extend the community grants scheme into new areas such as assistance with a Professional Drama Company or to supplement the capital assistance scheme for recreational facilities.

The subsidy for the Goodwin Homes would rise by $13,000 to $121,000 to meet higher costs and to increase the number of units.

$ 1.44M was being provided to the Y.M.C.A. as a loan to the construction in Bruce of its 200-bed hostel for young people.

The Budget provided $1.95M for the Commonwealth Brickworks (Canberra) Limited as the final payment of compensation for the resumption of its site in Yarralumla.

The Minister said that despite the Government's committment to public transport, the subsidy for the operation of the Canberra Bus Service would be only $19,000 above the $3.89M provided last year.

The virtual no increase in the subsidy had considerable impact. It would be necessary to raise bus fares, to defer again the introduction of predicted new bus services, and to stabilise recruitment of drivers and mechanics. No one would be dismissed.

Uneconomic runs, particularly at weekends, would have to be eliminated, in order to provide an ample peak service with the available subsidy. The major element in the cost of the bus service was wages. Savings to bring the 1975/76 operations down to the subsidised figure would be found by

adjustment of shifts to reduce overtime and penalty payments.

The committed programme for the purchase of new buses would continue and would include 86 MAN buses ordered in May 1975. This permitted the return of the old buses previously on hire from N.S.W. and would allow some replacement of other old stock.

The new schedule of bus fares would be announced soon.

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The allocation for the Canberra Tourist Bureau was $120,000, an increase of $21,496 over last financial year. Plans for a new film on Canberra had been scrapped. The business community would have to share more of the burden of publicising Canberra.

Expenditure on the maintenance of national and territorial parks, gardens and recreational areas would rise from $3.54M last’year to $3.89M/again simply to meet cost increases. The allocation for municipal services, such as garbage collections and the maintenance of municipal parks and gardens, would rise from $4.8M last year to $6.1M this year. Nineteen compaction trucks would be bought at an estimated total cost ■ of $900,000 and would be used to collect household garbage after the present contract expires in December.

The estimates provided for the purchase by the City Parks Administration of a $44,000 hydraulic work platform with a working height of up to 21.m. It would enable the lopping and removal of bigger trees than was possible with the present equipment. Other items provided for are a $30,000 four- wheel-drive front-end loader and ripper to develop landscaping projects,

and a $14,000 multi-purpose front-end loader, backhoe and grader for landscape development in confined spaces.

The allocation for the Canberra Botanic Gardens is $553,000 this year compared with $529,223 last year.

Three fire engines would be bought at an estimated total cost of $145,000 to ensure a better fire-protection service in Canberra's growing urban areas.

Like all other departments and agencies, Capital Territory's administrative funds had been heavily pruned. Funds for travel, consultants, furnishings/and communications had been reduced.

The Minister said he regretted to announce that funds for all forms of maintenance - roads, hydraulics, dwellings - were all being kept as low as possible as part of the Government's economy drive.

Mr Bryant said $126,000, the same amount as last year, would be provided as a grant for the administration of Norfolk Island. In addition, $265,000 ($159,000 last year) would enable the programme of restoration of historic buildings to continue. Also, $10,000 was provided for the first stage of redevelopment of the grounds of Government House , and $205,000 to complete the construction of a works depot.

Mr Bryant said revenue for the Department of the Capital Territory in 1975-76 was estimated at $80.4M compared with $61.64M in 1974-75.

He said lease sales were estimated to bring $21M ($14.6M last year) based on the offering for sale this financial year of 3900 residential ; blocks at the 1974-75 average price of $5550 each, 50 sites for medium ; density housing and 82 business sites.

Motor registry revenue would increase from $3.5M last year to an estimated $3.8M this year, reflecting the growth in car numbers. He could not rule out the possibility of increases in registration fees later this year.

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Revenue from rates would rise from $10.86M last year to an estimated $17.52M this year because of increased general, water and sewerage rates· ' and the growth of the City.

The estimated revenue from rents would now be about $12M because of the additional amounts arising from increases in government housing rentals which he had announced separately today. The estimate includes $2.053M for land rent on commercial leases.

Mr Bryant said that housing for the Aboriginal community at Wreck Bay, in which he had a great interest, was expected to be financed out of the Aboriginal Trust Fund. However the Department had secured $30,000 for maintenance of existing Wreck Bay housing. -

Mr Bryant said the N.C.D.C. handled a great deal of the Department of the Capital Territory's construction programme and he was glad that the allocation of funds to the N.C.D.C. for government housing, land and other city facilities had been provided at a level which ensured

continuity of construction.


19 AUGUST 1975