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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2608 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

Canberra as a city that was willing to do business, that was at the forefront of technology, that was easy to do business with and that was enthusiastic and keen to make work projects such as this one that are at the leading edge of technology.

Mr Speaker, the thing that is fascinating about this matter is that if it had not been for the work done by CanTrade, particularly Brian Jones and Jim Murphy, this project simply would not have eventuated. It was only last week that members opposite were making some fairly disparaging comments in this place about Mr Murphy.

Mr Stanhope: This does not involve utilising his trailer, does it?

Mr Hargreaves: He will have to have a few more trailers.


MS CARNELL: I agree, Mr Speaker. I find it really concerning that people who give their time freely, at no cost, to the ACT Government and the ACT community and pull off projects like this one that will bring many millions of dollars to the ACT are not supported by the people opposite. Bishop Austrans and CanTrade met initially a while ago and CanTrade brought them to see me. I have to say that it has taken a fair amount of time to work up the project. But the exciting thing was that last September, Bishop Austrans was awarded an R&D start-up grant of $14.3m by the Industry Research and Development Board. Mr Speaker, that is one of the biggest R&D grants - I think it is the biggest R$D grant - ever given.

As Bishop Austrans say in their press release, one of the reasons that they came to Canberra is that the ACT has a higher per capita spending on research and development than other States and Territories. In fact, whereas the rest of Australia has decreased expenditure on R&D over the last couple of years, the ACT has significantly increased it. In fact, the increase has been in the vicinity of 10 per cent, whereas there has actually been a reduction in the rest of Australia. That shows that the policies that have been adopted by the Government and CanTrade to present the ACT as a high tech destination are actually working and producing very real benefits on the ground.

Bishop Austrans is going to set up a demonstration site situated on the northern side of Fairbairn Avenue between Majura Road and Northcott Drive. It will involve a three-kilometre demonstration track - a 1.5-kilometre straight track with loops at either end to make a three- kilometre project in total - and there will be associated facilities for maintenance and R&D. There will be a visitors centre as well, which we believe and Austrans believes will attract many parties interested in having have a look at this sort of technology in the ACT.

One of the things of interest that the Austrans executive mentioned yesterday at the launch was that the ACT is alongside Singapore at the moment in that the Singapore Government have just approached Bishop Austrans to set up a test track in Singapore as well. That shows the level of interest in the project and the sorts of governments that are taking the same aggressive stand as we are, governments at the absolute forefront of research and development.

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