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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2550..

MR SPEAKER: The standing orders provide for five minutes to answer the question.

Mr Smyth: Yes, and the standing orders also say that he cannot debate the subject, he must answer the question.

MR SPEAKER: Indeed, and while ever the Chief Minister sticks to the subject matter of the question, which is in relation to the IT matter you have raised, he has five minutes to answer it.

Mr Smyth: To communicate with the federal government. If he has not done it, he should just say no.

MR STANHOPE: In those 17,000 jobs we have created in the five years that we have been in government, which have led to a trend unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent—the lowest ever recorded trend unemployment rate recorded in Australia—there are of course a significant number of IT jobs. We have now, under this government, the highest level of ICT participation in the work force of any place in Australia—I think it is 8.6 per cent against the national average of 3.5 per cent—attributable to this government.

These are things we have done. We have ratcheted it up to the point where over eight per cent of all people in the territory are engaged in ICT, as against what the rest of the nation has managed to achieve. We have not done what the federal Liberal government has done, which is refuse to accept and acknowledge the issue of skills shortage, refuse to invest in universities or educational training.

In this budget which has been delivered, which we are currently debating, we have hit the $500 million mark. A significant proportion of that is in relation to VET and the training and skilling-up of our work force with an enormous increase in apprenticeships, which is a feature of this government and our dedicated attention to the issue of skills. Indeed, in this budget again and through decisions taken reflected in the budget, we are about to establish a skills commission.

We have acknowledged that the number one issue within the territory is skills. We have engaged with the business community in a way which offends the sensibilities of the Liberal Party, because they of course regard the business community or sector as their own and would prefer it if they did not deal with or work in partnership with this particular government, which they do, to pursue a range of initiatives to attract people to the ACT.

We now have, for the first time in 10 years, since the great rush out of the territory, net positive migration back into the ACT. It has taken 10 years to recover from the damage which John Howard and Kate Carnell did 10 years ago. We have now recovered the position. This is the first time in 10 years that we have had net positive migration back into the territory.

We put our money where our mouth is—$20 million dollars into NICTA—things that you would not do. We now have the leading-edge Australian centre of excellence in relation to ICT, something you would not do. You never ever put your money where your mouth was. A great lot of gunnas.

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