2020-21 ACT Budget: details but nothing new

CIT Woden - planned completion 2025

The 2020-21 ACT Budget is a year late and contains little that was not made public before the 2020 ACT Election. 2020 was a special year and the budget has finally caught up. Hopefully, the budget for the year 2021-2022 will bring more investment in cycling.

Cycling not found in the budget

This statement may be confusing at first. The issue is not that there is no expenditure on cycling. There is always some, no matter how small it may be at times compared to other capital investment. Rather, there is a problem with the visibility of the expenditure. This is a problem of language and the way the budget aggregates data in categories.

An indication of the problem can be found through keyword searches. The 2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook is a long document with 82,559 words and spanning 310 pages. You would think you would find the words bike, bicycle, cycle, shared path or active travel in there somewhere. Active travel is mentioned but the word bike is only mentioned twice (minor side note) and bicycle, cycle and shared path are not mentioned at all.

The ACT Chief Minister and ACT Treasurer, Andrew Barr, made many announcements in the last year regarding the $4 billion in Covid-19 stimulus package. He rarely mentioned cycling but rather talked about clearly more important topics such health ($2 billion), education ($1.4 billion) and light rail (planned $1.9 billion).

The international gold standard of investment in cycling is 20% of the transport budget. The countries that are cycling laggards get nowhere near this and not surprisingly they have cycling participation rates of less than 1% – including Australia, USA and the UK as a matter of interest. In 2020, canberra.bike estimated the investment in the ACT for cycling infrastructure to be less than 1% of the transport infrastructure investment.

2020 needed a fast and decisive answer to COVID-19. Hopefully, once we get that behind us, the situation will improve with a shift to long term and consistent strategic investment in cycling.

Budget Outlook

The Budget Outlook is the executive summary of the ACT Budget documents. It contains information about the big important things but does not have the rigour of ACT Treasury accounting standards. There are appendices for each directorate that outline the details. The Budget Reader provides help for how the tables should be understood. The wellbeing budget makes an appearance with case studies for typical ACT residents to determine the impact of the budget on their lives.

The tables below are quoted directly from the 2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook. Between publishing this article and 2022 the content was taken down for the ACT Government website.

Transport Canberra And City Services Directorate

Feasibility and design studies for community infrastructure and upgrades

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will fast track a range of feasibility and design work on projects across Canberra in the next four months to develop a pipeline of shovel-ready proposals for future consideration.

John Gorton Drive and Molonglo River Bridge Crossing

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Offset – Capital – Provision0-18,800-76,000-81,200-176,000
Net capital3,00041,200-16,000-30,000-1,800
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will progress the detailed design and construction of the John Gorton Drive 3C extension, including constructing a bridge across the Molonglo River. The project includes a signalised intersection to provide access to the Molonglo Group Centre, on-road cycle lanes, and an off-road shared use path.

Monaro Highway upgrades, 2020-21 ACT Budget

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Capital – Provision00000
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will continue to progress design and construction for upgrading further sections of the Monaro Highway and will establish a further $30.5 million capital provision for this project in 2024-25. This project is being facilitated by a Commonwealth grant through the National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure, which will also see the Commonwealth contribute 50 per cent of the additional expenditure.

Planning and design for a zero emissions bus network

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Capital – Provision0NFPNFP0NFP
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will implement a pathway for the ACT to use zero emissions public transport, consistent with the Zero Emission Transition Plan for Transport Canberra, by electrifying Woden Bus Depot to enable the charging of electric buses.

The capital provision amount has been withheld in order to secure value for money.

Road and community infrastructure

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Capital – TCCS7152,660003,375
Capital – CMTEDD1,0354,020005,055
Total Capital1,7506,680008,430
Expenses – TCCS5,1702,7307337,940
Expenses – CMTEDD00106171
Expenses – EPSDD200000200
Net cost of services5,3702,7873113888,856
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

This initiative is funded by a Commonwealth Local Roads and Community Infrastructure grant to deliver local projects to support jobs and the resilience of the economy while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative will provide improvements to road and cycling infrastructure, playground and recreational infrastructure as well as waste, public toilet and library facilities.

Road improvements for Canberra’s south-west

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Capital – Provision04,00010,00010,00024,000
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will consider road upgrades to improve public transport, active travel, freight and safety along Canberra’s South-Western road corridor. The entire transport corridor will be studied to identify the feasibility, transport benefits and the priority of potential upgrades. Subject to agreement on the project/s, the Commonwealth will fund half of the $100 million project under the National Partnership Agreement for Land and Transport Infrastructure Projects.

Road safety improvements

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Net cost of services0150360480990
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will improve road safety across Canberra. This is being facilitated by a Commonwealth grant as part of its Targeted Road Safety Works program, which will fund 50 per cent of the capital costs.

Upgrading an intersection on Owen Dixon Drive/Gundaroo Drive (Gundaroo Drive upgrade)

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Net cost of services00233433666
2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will further improve the north-south arterial road, between the Barton Highway and Ginninderra Drive (ed. Gundaroo Drive upgrade) by including a signalised intersection at Owen Dixon Drive/Gundaroo Drive.

2020-2021 ACT Budget - where the money goes
2020-2021 ACT Budget – where the money goes


There are a number of projects worthy of comment and have been discussed elsewhere on this website.

Monaro Highway

The Monaro Highway is most definitely coming. For Canberrans in the far south it is a hot topic. These budget documents do not mention the investment but the plans are advanced. It will cost $200 million and include an overpass. Bike lanes are planned but it is not the type of road that I would consider riding on if there were any better alternative. White paint does not provide much protection.

John Gorton Drive and Molonglo River Bridge Crossing

John Gorton Drive and Molonglo River Bridge Crossing are mentioned but nothing new is found in this budget.

Road improvements for Canberra’s south-west

The vague language can be rather irritating. There are several projects in the south-west including upgrades to Athllon Drive and Sulwood Drive. These projects are long awaited and the cycling infrastructure upgrades long overdue. It is, however, not clear whether “Road improvements for Canberra’s south-west” is referring to this. It would seem reasonable from the public announcements in 2020 that it is.

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