Page 84 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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Our planning has been associated with action. I want to take a little time to reflect on what has been done as an indicator of what will follow during the term of the Sixth Legislative Assembly. On 24 August this year I tabled a statement on the implementation of the commitments made under our economic white paper. That report is recommended reading, and it puts a lie to bogus claims of inaction on our part.

Speaking of action, first permit me to list initiatives in my other portfolio areas before returning to economic development. In racing and gaming, we see the Thoroughbred Park redevelopment made possible through government backing. We see a decent legislative framework in place for the regulation of clubs and poker machines. We now see a well entrenched, decent code of practice in relation to gambling machines.

In sport and recreation, women’s sport has deservedly received greater recognition and support. Canberra Stadium is operating well, with a fantastic giant replay screen that represents a business enterprise in itself. For anybody that watched any of the Melbourne Spring Carnival and saw the big screen down there—that is ours, hired out at a profit.

Manuka Oval is being improved with increased undercover seating and upgraded external presentation. The hockey centre is undergoing significant improvement and will be capable of hosting the women’s champion trophy next year.

Draft plans for significant development of Southwell Park are now out for discussion. There have been a number of sensible and popular programs to encourage wider participation such as actively ageing, kids-at-play and good sports territory. All of those have been embraced by the sporting and recreation fraternity.

There have been significant improvements in tourism. We now have a commission with credibility and a strategic approach. In large part, the industry is working together. Some elements will continue to pressure government for more promotions and more events. We understand their motivation and we will take it into account. When promoting business, we also expect a contribution from those who would directly benefit.

In a wider context the government will continue to build on our strengths and pursue diversity within the economy. The business community is not the natural constituency of a Labor government. Within that sector there are articulate advocates who will no doubt continue to make calls for taxation concessions and who will feel duty-bound to call for move favourable treatment for business, regardless of what is done.

We appreciate where they are coming from. However, I have to say that from time to time I am amazed at the serious treatment afforded in the public forum calls on government blatantly inspired by naked self-interest.

We will continue to build solid relationships with the business sector. But we will also feel free to introduce balance and perspective into debates on what governments might do for business and what governments might do in relation to industrial relations and working conditions.

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