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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4644 ..


centres are basic infrastructure, we do not have a convention centre commensurate with our place as the nation’s capital.

Mr Hanson: Shame!

MR SMYTH: That is a shame and it has seen business go begging. There is a net loss of business from the ACT because certain government conferences cannot be held here because we do not have a facility. We put our position on the table in 2000 and stimulated this debate. The convention bureau is keen to see this happen. The Business Council are doing their bit as well. It is important that we get on with the job of providing the things that are essential for a strong economic base and a strong local economy into the future. The infrastructure in this regard is not being provided by this government.

Indeed, we have the whole problem of who is actually in charge of this area. Mr Barr in estimates basically said, “That is a private sector thing; let the private sector do it.” It falls into the Chief Minister’s portfolio of economic development. The Treasury has input because it is vital infrastructure. Again, the administrative arrangements that this government has lets down the community, the people of the ACT, because as a community we do not get the infrastructure we need. Let business go and do business. That is their job. It is the role of government to provide the infrastructure, the critical infrastructure, to ensure that they can do it, and we are not getting it.

We saw it at the airport. The airport ran the projects to deliver the road infrastructure to allow the airport to function because the Minister for Urban Services at the time was incapable of delivering that infrastructure. That is a great project, on time and on budget. It is ahead of time, ahead of budget, and it is delivered for the people of the ACT because the government could not, would not and did not do it. That is the problem. These are the things that hold back a strong local economy.

We saw the disaster that is Gungahlin Drive, and we have all seen the reports. We could rattle off the litany of wasted expenditure that could have gone into providing further infrastructure to allow business to get on with what it does—to enhance the role of the ACT public service and to assist the role of the federal public service—but we do not get that leadership and we do not have the plans. There are lots of plans. There are too many plans in many cases because the government’s answer to everything is to drop another plan or have another review or another strategy. But if you go back and you track it through, what happens in the main is very little that contributes to a strong local economy.

I guess it is a good thing that we had initially 11 years of economic sunshine courtesy of the Howard government. Let’s face it, the foundation of the strong economic foundation that we have now is in the reforms of the Hawke-Keating years. Well done to Prime Minister Keating in particular with some of his economic reform at the time, but even more credit to Costello and Howard in what they did to pay off the debt and deliver surpluses so that we can build the country a future and provide the economic services that people deserve.

What have we got? We have got deficits for years to come and the prospect of additional borrowing, but we have no attempt at all to diversify the economic base and


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