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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 761 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

ability to attract investors to the region and, indeed, jobs, especially for our children and their children.

In the harsh light of economic reality, we face competition from all other regions of Australia and overseas. They are all trying to achieve exactly the same outcome for themselves. Everyone is looking for additional economic development in their state or territory that will give them some benefit. Some in this place argue that growth is not necessarily the way to go, but I think those Luddites forget that, without growth, our kids simply will not have jobs or the opportunity of having jobs, and prospects for the future will be diminished. I would hope that most members recognise that.

The legislation we passed last night was the product of the longest and most complex process of consultation, lobbying and sheer hard work by a large bunch of people, including staff in the Assembly, political staffers and advisers-and I think I have already complimented them on their work. It occurred through a process that included negotiations at many levels, and a general consensus was reached. I thought all parties knew quite well where everyone else stood.

There were amendments and cross-amendments drafted-some would say too many-to cover every possible outcome. We all thought we knew pretty well where everyone was coming from. Agreements were reached with competing interests to ensure that no-one would surprise or gazump anyone else. I thought that it was an excellent process and that the people involved should be commended.

It was recognised, I think, before we started the debate yesterday, that we would find ourselves with legislation which would be similar to that applying in South Australia, because it is important that this territory's legislation does not differentiate itself much from what applies elsewhere. We cannot afford to go so far ahead of other places seeking the same investments that we drive potential developers away. We do not want to do things that would penalise the ACT by putting up the price of those investments. That is a basic economic fact: if the risks are perceived to be higher, the return on investment will need to be higher, which will drive people away, and it is pointless to create barriers to investment.

Mr Corbell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think the minister is coming very close to reflecting on a vote of the Assembly.

MR SPEAKER: I have been listening very carefully. So far all he has done is extol the virtues of everybody who participated in the debate.

MR STEFANIAK: I heard a representative of the tenants suggest on ABC radio this morning that, if investment in the ACT was restricted by these provisions, she would be:

... delighted. We don't need any more retail. We are the most over-retailed city in the whole of Australia, and if big developers don't want to build any more malls, you will hear the cries of small business people rejoice.

I hope those words do not come back to haunt her, and I hope that her children will still have the opportunity to set up their own businesses down the track, and not find that these amendments mean that there are no premises to rent because investors have taken

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