Page 1724 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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new activities to support industry cluster development, including capability mapping to establish robust baseline data on industries and related institutions in key sectors, activities to maximise local industry participation in major infrastructure projects and new measures to showcase innovative ACT companies on the national and international stage.

In addition, Mr Speaker, the government has decided to extend outyear funding to the knowledge fund by a further $3 million in 2008-09. This will take the government’s total commitment to the knowledge fund to $21.5 million since it came to office. To date, the program has helped leverage approximately $44 million in company project expenditure and has supported over 200 new knowledge economy jobs.

Mr Speaker, just days ago I was pleased to announce the commencement of the development of the building that will house the ACT campus of the national information and communications technology centre of excellence—NICTA. The government’s $20 million investment in NICTA has already leveraged $127 million in potential commonwealth funding, plus $60 million to construct the new purpose-built site. As well as the 100 new NICTA positions and 100 PhD student places, an estimated 280 jobs will be involved in the construction phase. The investment made in NICTA will be returned to the territory manifold. Canberra continues to punch above its weight in relation to economic development.


The Australian Productivity Commission recently triggered a debate on the appropriate scoping of tourism and the measurement of associated economic contribution. The ACT government has similar concerns of its own. Nevertheless, it is recognised that tourism is a significant contributor to our economy and a significant provider of employment.

Tourism is subject to constant challenges including world events, airline withdrawals, fluctuating fuel costs and changing of consumer trends, all of which we have experienced since last year’s budget. These challenges were manifest in a decline in visitation in two quarters ending December 2004, and Canberra was not alone in suffering from this negative impact.

However, we have experienced rising awareness levels in target markets, significantly improved industry satisfaction, growing length of stay and the number of visitors to events. The continuing challenge we have to face is finding ways to counter negative perceptions of Canberra.

Events are an integral part of our tourism mix and a catalyst for attracting and improving visitor length of stay. As a result of the government’s 2004 election commitment, a new tourism events structure was established within Australian Capital Tourism and it will take on broader responsibilities to ensure that future and existing events reach their full potential as drivers of tourism visitation.

In addition to running the Subaru Rally of Canberra and Floriade, the new events unit will be responsible for identifying, developing, supporting and selectively managing other visitor-oriented events and projects as well as coordinating strategic partnering and corporate sponsorship programs. The Brindabella Mountains Challenge is an example of

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