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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3036..


Industry Assistance Program

MR KAINE: I presume the Leader of the Opposition has no third and fourth supplementary questions. My question, Mr Speaker, is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I understand that there was an agreement signed recently between the ACT Government and a company called AOFR Ltd, for that company to expand its operations in Canberra. I understand further that that agreement will lead to several hundred new jobs being created in Canberra over the next five years. Chief Minister, was this simply a one-off, as is claimed by the Leader of the Opposition, or has the Government been able to support other local ACT companies to develop new markets and to expand their employment bases as well?

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Kaine, for the question. Mr Speaker, when this Government came to office it did so on a platform that Canberra would be open for business under our new approach. For the last six years successive ACT governments have recognised that if we are to develop a stronger, longer-term, sustainable economy we must diversify our employment base. The traditional industries, such as retail, construction and public service, are no longer growth areas and we cannot afford to rely on them any longer. This Government is taking up the challenge of diversification, of seeking new markets and new business opportunities, with a vengeance. Much was said by Ms Follett when she was Chief Minister about her willingness to foster a more vibrant partnership with the private sector, but what happened? Absolutely nothing. The resources, the commitment and the vision fell by the wayside. But, enough about the past, Mr Speaker, because the Canberra business community and this Government are looking to the future.

Late last month this Government, as Mr Kaine noted, did sign an agreement with AOFR Ltd that enabled this organisation to stay in Canberra and to establish its regional headquarters in the Symonston advanced technology estate. Today I want to talk about another company that is making its mark in Australia and the South Pacific, one that has not ended up with quite the same media attention but deserves recognition all the same.

Ms McRae: Why do you not make a ministerial statement?

MRS CARNELL: We believe that these companies are important, Ms McRae, even if you do not, because they actually employ people.

Ms McRae: You can make a ministerial statement if you think it is so important.

Mr De Domenico: Just sit back, listen and suffer.

MR SPEAKER: Order!

MRS CARNELL: This Government, under our expanded industry assistance program - one that has not exactly ended up with huge accolades in this place, we have to say - has helped this company to diversify and grow right here in the ACT. As announced in the budget earlier this year, $850,000 was set aside for targeted industry assistance packages, and there were those in this place who criticised that. In June this year the Government provided a grant of $50,000 to SPL Coatings Technology to assist with the


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