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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 August 2011) . . Page.. 3382 ..

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Members, please! I cannot hear Mr Barr. As witty as your interjections are, I cannot hear Mr Barr.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MR BARR: The shadow minister is not interested in exports and business development. That is news today. As I was attempting to say, the government will assist the ACT exporting community to grow their business and to remain internationally competitive, and we will do so by supporting entrepreneurial spirit and the skills of Canberra business people.

We will not, however, be in the business of providing a myriad of government handouts. The government provide information and capability-building services for local businesses but we do not—I need to be very clear—believe there should be a government-led plan for every industry sector. It is better to let business get on with the job rather than have individual sectoral plans that require significant resources to develop and, presumably, monitor.

Services account for 99.6 per cent of the territory’s exports. We are working in areas of our comparative advantage—our skilled workforce, with world-class educational facilities and our talents in and knowledge of government services. So in conjunction with a range of initiatives aimed at growing the ACT’s education sector, the 2011-12 budget included funding to implement education in export services strategies.

The government recognises the expertise of ACT businesses in delivering solutions to government, both local and federal. Australian public administration is widely considered amongst the best in the world. There is no doubt that the Canberra community and the work of many in the private sector are at the heart of that comparative advantage. Government services do present export opportunities, particularly to large government markets such as in the United States.

As a result, the ACT government, in partnership with Austrade, is delivering an exporting government services pilot program. This program will assist ACT companies looking to export to governments in the US to develop skills and networks. It is interesting to note that the government services sector in the US is in fact larger than the entire Australian economy and clearly represents a significant opportunity for our city. We will be conducting a trade mission to Washington later this year to ensure that we have the opportunity to exploit this important market.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hargreaves, a supplementary?

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. As I was here during the period 1998 to 2001 and saw the parlous state the place was in, could the minister advise how the export sector has performed since 2001?

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