Territory residents set to cop double hit

Federal budget 2014: full coverage
Nanjing Night Net

ACT businesses and social services have described the Abbott government’s first budget as ”disappointing”, with Canberra set to suffer more than other states and territories.

Canberra Business Council chief executive officer Chris Faulkes said although she understood everyone had to contribute to repair the budget, the ACT had been asked to give more.

”The problem is that Australians living in Canberra are being asked to make a contribution as younger people, older people, business people, but they’re also being asked to make a contribution in terms of cuts to the public service,” she said.

”In other words, they’re being asked to make an additional contribution in addition to what has been asked of other states and territories. It is disappointing.”

ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew Blyth said a disproportionate impact would be felt in Canberra due to the high level of public service cuts.

But he said the 2014 budget would be seen in time as the point when Canberra transitioned from being a government town to a mature economy. ”What’s important now is that the ACT government continues to provide economic stimulus in order to cushion the coming blows that will be felt by small business,” he said.

”[We] would be looking to work with the ACT government on developing some of those measures.”

ACT Council of Social Services director Susan Helyar said the council didn’t think it was a fair budget, with the burden of savings falling on low-income households.

She said the public service cuts were disproportionate to the level of infrastructure investment by the Abbott government in the ACT.

”We know that [the cuts] will mean older workers and young people who are trying to get into the workplace will be locked out,” she said. ”We know that’s what happens when job cuts happen in the public sector.

”The ACT government and the ACT community put in a modest proposal for a convention centre and it was knocked back.

”I don’t see that there’s been the right investment in Canberra to get us through the loss of 16,500 jobs.”

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