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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5242 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The excellent result of the ANU confirms its place as Australia's leading university, and the university is to be congratulated. It did not happen overnight; we realise that. The apparent popularity of the University of Canberra also confirms Canberra as a desirable destination for students.

These results confirm that the government is correct in its desire to forge close relationships with both these institutions. In the economic white paper the government identified these universities, particularly the ANU, as drivers of growth for the ACT economy. We want to capitalise on the excellent ideas and research that are flowing out of the ANU and ensure that, as far as possible, the ACT community and ACT business are able to reap the benefit of this work. In the past there has been little effort or interest in doing the hard work to ensure that ideas and innovation in the ACT stay in the ACT.

The economic white paper identified over $640 million spent on publicly funded research in the ACT-12 per cent of the Australian total. We need to make sure that ACT business is in a position to take that research and commercialise it in the ACT. We are well on the path to doing that. In opposition, we committed to building a knowledge-based economy. As part of that commitment, the knowledge fund has helped 192 businesses already.

If I might digress from my prepared answer, Mr Speaker-

Mr Smyth: You wouldn't have a prepared answer to a question without notice? My God!

MR QUINLAN: I have the ability to anticipate questions.

Mr Cornwell: Is that while walking on water?

MR QUINLAN: Yes. At lunchtime I happened to be at Business ACT's updated Business Gateway, which I recommend everybody have a look at on the net, and I ran into some of the 192 companies that we have helped, some of which were with us in Silicon Valley a few weeks ago. The success of those companies is outstanding. They appreciate the fact that BusinessACT and the government provided the opportunity to them to present at the ANZATech showcase. A considerable amount of sales have taken place since, and because of, that trip.

That is not the end of it. That is an ongoing process, but it takes work and it takes cooperation between the education sector, the business sector and us, the government. As you are aware, we have made significant investment in NICTA. That will give far greater impetus to growth, particularly at the high end of business.

In relation to NICTA and the focus in the economic white paper on, if not white-collar jobs, white-coat jobs, if we want the economy to grow, we want to be at the creative end. Create wealth within the economy and the service industries will benefit as the multiplier flows through. If you focus halfway up the ladder, as has been suggested, that is where you will finish up: halfway up the ladder. If you focus at the wealth creation end, the benefits will flow back and all service industries will benefit. That point came up, and it needed to be responded to.

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