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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5028 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Business ACT. Business ACT, a peak association, Biotech Australia and Austrade are all together. We are being positive and trying to provide export and development opportunities for businesses in the ACT. We are doing the real stuff. We are doing the real thing. This is not a hipshot, scattergun approach; it is a strategic approach which is laid out before you.

I can understand the opposition not wanting to accept it. I can understand that they would feel the need to bag it as much as they could. That is the game we play in this place. Please knock yourself out doing it. I expect no more. However, in your private minds please try to get your head around it. See not only what Canberra can be but also what the government need to do to ensure that we compete with Dublin, Bangalore, San Diego and Cambridge. These areas are taking a strategic approach. They do not have lists of numbers and amounts either; they have conceptual plans to which they are working. We need to do the same thing.

I do anticipate, even though we are playing this silly game in here, that most people in this place would agree with the thrust in the white paper and that they will, in their own way, inasmuch as the political framework allows, be behind it and be behind the potential this offers Canberra. This government has genuine dialogue and a good relationship with educational institutions-not just at cocktail parties-and we are working with them. We are on the same wavelength with these institutions and with business. We are looking forward to Canberra's future success so that our children and their children can make their homes in this beautiful place.

MS DUNDAS (4.05): I have been interested in what the Treasurer has had to say in this matter of public importance. Perhaps he should have waited until more members spoke to get a greater understanding of what government and opposition members think about the economic white paper. This document forgets the majority of ACT adults who lack tertiary qualifications and suggests that we gamble large sums of public money on unproven start-up businesses. It is a document with no timelines, ranking of priorities or indicative costings and it lacks practical strategies to help our local small businesses grow.

At the time the government sought input on the economic white paper the ACT Democrats put forward a submission. The Treasurer has already spoken about the submission process today. He said that many people who put forward submissions saw that the suggestions were being taken up in the white paper. Unfortunately the submission of the ACT Democrats appears to have been ignored by Treasury. The concerns that we have put forward have not been picked up in the white paper. We expressed concerns that the views of the community sector and of ordinary residents were not being actively sought. Submissions were invited through an advertisement in the Canberra Times business section, so it is hardly surprising that the overall majority of submissions then came from the business sector.

I am disappointed that the white paper is so white collar in its outlook. ABS statistics show that 69 per cent of ACT residents aged over 15 lack tertiary qualifications and that slightly more than half have not completed year 12. The proportion of younger people with tertiary qualifications is much higher, but we need to build an employment base that is inclusive of our ageing population and all of our younger people, and that means more jobs that are not dependent on tertiary training.

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