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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 1 Hansard (22 February) . . Page.. 186 ..

Business Expenditure

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, in the last budget you provided over $10m in one way or another to business. Can you explain for this Assembly what productivity gains you demanded before agreeing to the expenditure of about $10m, which is equivalent to an average of $100 out of each person's rates per year?

MRS CARNELL: I am more than happy to, Mr Moore. Mr Moore, the ACT Government has already achieved the sorts of productivity returns that it expected from the extra money that we have spent on business. The $10m is actually a figure that only a couple of days ago Ms Follett suggested was not the case, so thank you very much for backing that up. That is an amount of money, as you rightly say, across a three-year budget. What we have got in return for that sort of money is 5,300 extra jobs, created since this Government took office, which compares to 700 extra jobs in the previous 12 months, under Ms Follett. We have an extra 5,300 jobs. Also in response to that money, a number of business incentive packages have been paid, probably the most notable of those being the AOFR arrangement - a deal by which the ACT now will be the centre of a major information technology or high-tech manufacturing entity which will employ between 300 and 400 extra people in this city. What we have here is more jobs. A number of businesses have set up under our business incentive packages for the ACT, and I believe that business generally is starting to get a move on.

Under the previous Government there were reductions in building approvals in every single month of the 12 months prior to Ms Follett losing office. For the last six months we have ended up with improvements in building approvals. We all know that the building industry is one of the basic industries in the private sector in this city and one of the biggest employers. We are starting to see a turnaround at that sort of level. We have more jobs; we have more building approvals. Certainly, the economy still could get a lot stronger, and that is the reason we have to continue to spend. That is the reason we have to continue to inject money into the private sector. Mr Moore, there is no way at all that there will be more jobs in the public sector in this town under whichever Federal government we have in place or whatever government we have here. That means that jobs have to be created in the private sector. The only way we can get jobs created in the private sector is to have incentive schemes to make this city a good place to do business in, a place that attracts tourists, a place that attracts business generally. The only way we can achieve that is to change the image of this city from being a government city that simply cannot make decisions, that does not attract business.

MR MOORE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. The hard negotiations that led to some of these, I must say, outlandish claims you have just made you no doubt documented very thoroughly. Would you table for this Assembly a range of those negotiations that you have documented?

MRS CARNELL: Certainly, Mr Moore. In terms of the business incentive scheme, which I assume is one of the areas you are talking about, there are actually quite strict guidelines which I am more than happy to table for this Assembly. The other areas that we have spent extra money on in the business arena are quite obvious when you document them. There are simply more jobs. More jobs have been created - - -

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