Expert commentary on the 2024 ACT Election

ACT Election 2024: Aspiration versus cost of living? A new stadium or paying down debt?

With the ACT Elections to be held in October 2024, the major issues are shaping up to be providing infrastructure and services or reducing sky-rocketing debt. This morning I spoke with Georgia Stynes on Canberra Mornings, ABC Radio 666. I'm on from 33'55".

Territorians are currently paying about $1 million per day in interest fees to service government debt of some $8 billion. The territory's debt is expected to increase to some $16 billion by 2026. This will only make it more difficult for the ACT Government to deliver infrastructure without increasing rates and taxes.

The ACT is already the highest taxing state or territory government in Australia. Last year the territory lost its AAA credit rating.

The ACT Government committed to fully-funding its unfunded superannuation liability by 2030. In 2023, a capital injection of $347,908,000 was made to the Superannuation Provision Account to pay down the liability.

The ACT Government has announced Stage 2B of the light rail will be constructed between 2028-2033, and the construction of a new stadium will not commence until after 2030 when the super liability will be fully funded. The annual payments will then be diverted to the debt which is accumulating rapidly.

In the meantime, the Canberra Liberals are starting to look like an ACT Government, and the Barr Labor-Greens government has been in power since 2015, with Labor in power for two decades.

The 2024 ACT Election will come down to aspiration versus cost of living. While transport might be an issue, it is difficult to divorce the cost of servicing the ACT's large debt from any infrastructure spend.