Page 3492 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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Skills shortages and business

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.41): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) the importance of population growth for strengthening the economy of the ACT;

(b) the need to overcome the skills shortage in the ACT; and

(c) the need to identify and overcome negative perceptions of Canberra as a place to live, work and do business; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(d) address the skills shortage by drawing on the talents and experience of older people and stepping up migration of skilled and business people;

(e) create specific advantages in superior infrastructure, clean and plentiful water supply and personal safety;

(f) improve relationships with the Federal Government to develop special features and facilities which reflect the nation’s capital; and

(g) fulfil its promise to make Canberra “unashamedly pro-business and committed to actions that will make the ACT the premier business friendly location in Australia”.

The issue of population growth, skills shortage and business in the ACT is an important one. It ties in with the current debate about the future of Canberra and the perception of our city. I commend the fact that the Canberra Times has taken the initiative of focusing on this very important issue.

We all want Canberra to be the best place for living, for business, for recreation and for raising our families. The big question is: how can we make it happen? A key measure of how attractive Canberra is to people is whether they choose to come here and stay here. Regrettably, on that test Canberra is not doing terribly well.

The net population growth in the year to 2004 was only 0.2 per cent, compared with 1.2 per cent nationally. That is, the ACT population is growing at one-third of the national rate. I do not want to be negative about the ACT. It is very easy to be, and there are plenty of people in this country who want to criticise Canberra, but these are alarm bells and these are of concern. We will talk about the amendment later, but it troubles me that there is a reticence to look critically at the issues that I am suggesting we consider today.

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