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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3041 ..

We must work strategically with industry and the commonwealth government to boost local jobs and ensure that every project—small, medium and large—has real opportunities for Canberrans. The major infrastructure investment in our hospital is critical and it is beyond time for excuses and delays. We must have a plan to end infrastructure underspend and end failures to deliver. Instead of blaming industry for not being able to deliver on projects, we must work with industry to build for the future, not make excuses for why something has not or cannot be done.

The first step towards futureproofing infrastructure underspend, of course, is to provide a significant boost to skills and training. If we do not invest in skills now, we will not see a sustainable, beautiful city that we want to leave for our children. Let us maximise our potential as the knowledge capital and create a plan to safely bring back our international and interstate students. Canberra is the knowledge capital of Australia, but we can be the knowledge capital of the world. We boast some of the most amazing minds in the country, and our research capacity is second to none.

In my previous budget reply I spoke about our city’s potential to be at the forefront of research in climate action and renewables, in cybersecurity and defence, and this still holds. Our universities have suffered significant blows with border closures, and we must have a plan to safely bring back international and interstate students. International education is the ACT’s first billion-dollar export industry. International students have been a huge part of Canberra and its heart for a long time. Whilst their citizenship on paper belongs to a different country, for many, their hearts belong to us. Not only do our international students support the tertiary and vocational education sectors; they bring the richness of their culture, their language and their voice, making our city more vibrant, more dynamic, more livable. They also play a huge role in core skills in hospitality, retail, IT and the service industry, which make an enormous contribution to our economy.

We know that, once domestic borders start to open up, all Australian cities and institutions will be competing to attract bright young minds from around the country. We must be ready and competitive when that time comes. The next 12 months will be an incredibly challenging and important time for our city as we map our way out of this pandemic. Canberrans have already shown the depth of our courage and community in the way that we have responded to the extraordinary events over the past two years—from bushfires to smoke, from hail to a global pandemic.

The Canberra we want to see in the next 12 months is one that will be stronger, be more resilient and that has great hope for a brighter tomorrow. The Canberra of tomorrow that I want to see for my daughter and her generation is one where we have shown incredible heart to pull through the most tough times, where the decisions made by the leaders of today create opportunities for the Canberrans of tomorrow, where we are the city befitting of the nation’s capital and the envy of every other city in the world. Laying the foundation to create this Canberra of tomorrow must start today.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.23): I rise to reply to the 2021-22 ACT budget tabled by the Treasurer and Chief Minister on Wednesday. As one of the two parties

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