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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2837 ..


Economy—employment opportunities

MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (5.39): I would like to highlight something that I have been invested in and have worked on for quite a while since being elected—that is, world-class work for Canberra. Canberra’s economic and employment environment is enhanced by many things, including the very strong presence of the commonwealth public service. That has been the case since Walter Burley Griffin was appointed as the federal capital’s director of design and construction on 18 October 1913.

Along with being the bush capital and the garden city, the plan for Canberra designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony centred on making a home for the commonwealth public service. Times are evolving, and Canberra needs to acknowledge the new market. A responsible approach to meeting the threats and opportunities presented—remote work, decentralisation and automation—would be to recognise that at its core Canberra is a natural hub for world-class work.

We have already seen the risks the ACT Labor-Greens government is running with an unfriendly approach to business and entrepreneurship. Opportunities like remote work and decentralisation have become risks, with people looking to work in regional New South Wales to follow the relocation of commonwealth departments. Look to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for an example. There has even been mention of a second Canberra.

To make Canberra a world-class and diverse job environment the ACT Labor-Greens government should recognise more highly the value of private sector jobs and economic growth and shed its complacency towards the gift that is commonwealth government employment and procurement. Sensible approaches to bring this about would include promoting and supporting Canberra’s private sector, attracting and retaining ideas and talent, fostering a strong culture of entrepreneurship and creativity, and undertaking a serious red tape reduction program.

Unfortunately, retention is another problem we face with our educated population leaving for broader horizons for fear of lack of choice in the employment sector here. The approach our government currently pursues does not adequately celebrate Canberra’s many advantages—top-ranked universities, national cultural institutions, a highly educated population, natural and man-made beauty, and an enviable lifestyle.

It is frustrating to see a lack of real action from the Labor-Greens government in the budget announced today towards creating and facilitating a diversity of jobs and opportunities for all Canberrans. The Leader of the Opposition has been calling for this as a priority. My commitment as shadow minister for jobs and workplace affairs is to keep an open mind when it comes to thinking about what the jobs market will look like in one, five or 20 years. I will continue my discussions with the private sector to explore their needs and investigate what inhibits their growth.

I also want to investigate what keeps businesses away from Canberra and work to encourage them to bring their capital and expertise to our great city. Canberra can and


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