Questions remain over Barr's ‘turbo charged’ budget


Canberra Liberals Leader and Shadow Treasurer Elizabeth Lee has questioned the Treasurer’s glitzy infrastructure budget announcement of $5 billion over five years that he claims will ‘turbo charge’ the economy.

Ms Lee said Canberra needs this Labor-Greens Government to play a big role in the response to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the lockdown of the last two months to help repair the economy.

“In the delayed budget handed down in February this year, when the Labor-Greens Government thought things were bouncing back and returning to normal, the infrastructure spend was $4.3 billion over four years,” Ms Lee said.

“Now after the devastation of a lockdown and their self-proclaimed intention to “turbo charge” the economy, the budget handed down last week shows an infrastructure spend of $4.48 billion over four years; amounting to a $179 million increase or just 4.2 per cent.

“What the Treasurer has failed to explain to Canberrans is that they have added a fifth year of an additional $480 million spend to make their figures look good.

“While the Canberra Liberals support the money invested in infrastructure, what we don’t support is a Treasurer and Chief Minister who continues to disrespect Canberrans by not being upfront about repackaged announcements.

“We also know that the Labor-Greens Government consistently underspends the amount it allocates for capital works.

"Even with top ups from roll overs from previous years, the amount of underspend each year is staggering. Since 2017/18, the underspend ranges from just under 20 percent to often over 30 per cent.

“Just last year we saw an underspend of a whopping $250 million on infrastructure projects which the Chief Minister put the blame squarely on industry,” Ms Lee said.

“It is astounding that the government’s signature announcement to “turbo charge” the economy with an infrastructure boost comes with a complete failure to invest in our skills and trades to deliver on these projects.

“After 20 years, this Labor-Greens Government is first class at spin but what these figures show is that year after year, they never live up to their own hype.

“If the Chief Minister is serious about creating jobs for Canberrans and “turbo charging” our economic recovery, then he has some serious catching up to do,” Ms Lee concluded.