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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 993 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The Business Council in its submission was clearly representing the businesses, large and small, of the ACT and they had a number of suggestions about the regulatory and taxation frameworks. They wish to see further reform of the workforce regulations. Of course, we are yet to see the workers compensation and the occupational health and safety regulations that might come forward from this government. They had concerns about decision-making processes, particularly decisions on land usage taking too long, and were keen to see the reduction of government charges on business, particularly payroll tax. They saw the initiatives of the previous government to reduce payroll tax in particular as being very beneficial to the small and medium businesses of Canberra. Of course, the issue of insurance still continues to lurk, and the council certainly saw that there was need to make sure that the ACT government participates in a development of national solutions which the Treasurer has made quite clear they are working towards.

It is interesting that a group like the Business Council would put forward the need for monitoring demographic change, and I think it shows that they have a long-term view of the city that we might become. They appreciate the question of ageing, and those of us who moved here in the 60s and the 70s with our parents know that our parents are reaching retirement age. It is important that when the numbers peak in about 2015 we have in place services to meet their needs. So there is the potential for Canberra to be ahead of the game. It is something we worked on in government, and I would urge that the government looks at the need to monitor that demographic change.

The Business Council made a number of other specific suggestions. Indeed, they were very interested in the concept of implementing sustainable policies. They approved the establishment by the government of the Office of Sustainability, but they raised the point that it needed to be funded adequately if it was to do this job properly.

With members of the Convention Bureau and the tourism industry, they also raised the issue of what we are going to do about the facilities at the National Convention Centre. They see these facilities as the cornerstone of much of the tourism that comes with the ACT. They gave members of the committee copies of the PKF report which says there will be something like a $1.7 billion loss in revenue over the next 10 years, and that will have, of course, effects on jobs and the viability of many small tourism businesses. They also wanted the government to take a more active role in promoting tourism.

The tourism industry reiterated much of what we had heard. In fact, some of them just shuffled the deck chairs and reappeared. The Tourism Industry Council raised the issue of event versus destination funding-something that was being addressed in the last budget, and hopefully it will continue to be addressed in the coming budget. They again indicated their support for the National Convention Centre and the need for adequate funds to be made available to make sure that it is upgraded. Both the CBC and the Tourism Industry Council brought to the attention of the committee the fact that convention centres around the country are all state funded, and it is quite an anomaly to have them in private ownership.

As Ms Tucker has mentioned, we had a number of other submissions, particularly from the Junction Health Service and the Catholic Education Office. They, of course, have a part to play in the economic wellbeing of the territory, but we decided that what they had to say would be better addressed by the health and the education committees.

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