Federal Budget 2017: Chief Minister Andrew Barr says ACT overlooked rather than attacked

The ACT had been “overlooked rather than attacked” in the federal budget, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Tuesday night, highlighting a lack of significant infrastructure spending for Canberra.

But he said the ACT would look closely at the commitment to invest in major rail projects.

“A dedicated fast rail link between Sydney and Canberra would have major benefits to both major cities, and I look forward joining the federal government and NSW government playing a constructive role in delivering this important project,” he said.

An hour after the budget was handed down, Mr Barr said a letter had arrived from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “Infrastructure highlights for the ACT: $1.5m towards planning for the Pialligo Avenue duplication. That’s it,” Mr Barr tweeted, with a copy of the letter.

“While it’s better to be ignored than attacked, Canberrans have every right to feel short changed by the Liberals,” he said. “There is no support for any major transport projects in the ACT, and the promised Barton Highway upgrades are not funded in this year’s budget.”

But Mr Barr was relieved that Canberra’s commonwealth funding held up, with no major cuts to the public service, and some extra money for the national institutions.

The federal government is also re-targeting the funding that goes to states for affordable housing from 2018-19. Rather than paying for social housing, rent help and accommodation for the homeless, the program will be tied more closely to state and territory housing supply targets, planning and zoning changes, and renewing public housing, as well as homelessness services. States will have to focus on priority occupations to get the funding, and will have to match the money themselves.

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