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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1833..

Mrs Dunne (continuing):

My other point of order is this: the standing orders require that the Chief Minister confine his answers to the subject matter of the question. And the subject matter of the question is a draconian $5 million cut to business programs.

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, come to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I was talking about this government's commitment to business. Our commitment to business and to economic development is reflected in the fact that we, as a government, put our money where our mouth is. It was because of this government-after years of finagling and inaction by the other government, by the Liberal Party in power-that $30 million was eventually invested directly in the convention centre.

You need to remember these things. You need to remember who it was that made the investment. You need to recall that it was this government that invested $20 million in NICTA-the most significant other investment in IT enhancement-one of the smart industries that we identified through the economic white paper. An issue that has been pursued by Business ACT was the decision by this government to support NICTA to the tune of $20 million.

Just start racking it up: $30 million for the convention centre; $20 million for NICTA. As a result of our commitment to that and the leverage that was undertaken, we now have within the territory the pre-eminent centre of excellence in relation to IT.

There is the $10 million investment into the venture capital fund of the Australian National University, which allowed the leveraging of another $20 million, to the point where we now have, at the Australian National University, a $30 million venture capital fund. There is the $10 million investment in the University of Canberra in relation to the establishment of an allied health facilities faculty and the implications of that for business, for skills and for the development of the economic base here in the territory.

Just look at the record of this government and then compare it to the record of the previous government in relation to direct assistance for business. Look at the town. The economic indicators now, today, are better than they were at any stage in your period in government.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Since many of the budgets delivered recently by other states have increased support for businesses and decreased business taxes, why are you increasing the gap between the ACT and other states in providing support for business?

MR STANHOPE: As I was saying, we have provided enormous support for business in the territory over the last five years. Business has responded and so has the economy. As we indicated this morning and pointed out in the budget, we have the strongest balance sheet in Australia. We have-in the context of the strength of our balance sheet-a position that every other state looks at with some envy and, I am sure, longing.

In relation to the issue of decisions taken by other states in relation to tax, it is easy to pick out this tax or that tax and say, "This particular tax, land tax, is higher in the ACT than it is in Victoria."It is very interesting that until a year ago the comparison was

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