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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004-2005 Week 1 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 87..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

introducing a range of measures designed to address the issue and assist businesses in meeting the challenge. It is important to outline to the Assembly what those measures are.

We will create the young entrepreneurs' scholarship, which will give our business leaders of tomorrow the opportunity to take advantage of our international partnerships. We will provide targeted financial support through the 'See yourself in Canberra' incentive program, which will provide $1,500 in stamp duty reductions or bond relief for new residents who wish to undertake employment in sectors needing skilled personnel.

We will create and maintain the Canberra mature worker register, a free service to help older Canberrans find work and assist Canberra businesses interested in employing mature experienced workers. We will introduce a retraining voucher for long-term unemployed, which will provide $1,200 of support for training at the Canberra Institute of Technology in industries that are suffering from skills shortages such as construction, hospitality and financial services.

We will work closely with the local business community to develop solutions to properly address skill shortages in affected industries. We will fund a study to look at the skills needed in emerging industries and how the VET system-the vocation education system-can respond quickly to skills demand and how the additional funds that we have provided for VET can be put to the greatest effect.

As members can see, a lot has been done and a lot is being achieved. This is not an idle government and our efforts are targeted, measured and, importantly, effective.

Earlier I mentioned risk. We must recognise that there are threats and risks to our economic welfare. They include the clawing back of federal funding through the elimination of competition payments, already announced by the Prime Minister; the elimination of special revenue assistance, which is a misnomer-that is, money that the ACT is legitimately and morally entitled to; and cost shifting on many fronts.

Members will have witnessed the conga line of federal ministers saying, "With the GST and the rivers of gold that states are now receiving, they ought to be paying for this, they ought to be paying."That list is growing. At question time on Capital Hill today, Peter Costello announced that he will be going to the March Council of Treasurers with a list of taxes that he expects the states to eliminate from business because we have all this GST.

Mr Costello is in the process of reinventing the inter-governmental agreement that supports the GST. Watch this space for that. There will be some fun. There will be an ongoing battle with the commonwealth as minister after minister refers to the GST revenues as a rationalisation for cost shifting to the states and territories.

Our economic strength is capable of meeting the various threats, but we need to be aware that tuning our budgets to the conditions prevailing at the peak of the economic cycle would be foolhardy to say the least. Our budget is supported by strong economic data, with decent growth anticipated and historically low levels of unemployment. Business confidence remains high and various indicators within the economy are still strong. The

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