Page 1008 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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The NFF have estimated, based on ABS data, that, for agricultural production to approach pre-2002 levels again, an additional 80,000 to 100,000 workers are needed across Australia. They have advocated a multifaceted approach to respond to this challenge and this includes attracting people to skilled agricultural careers through a focus on education, training and actively engaging job seekers. I have reviewed the NFF’s labour shortage action plan and it is to be commended. It recognises the benefits that that industry can offer and the plan commits the organisation to marketing those benefits strongly. It also recognises the need for skilled and unskilled migration to fill the short-term void that exists within the industry. I am impressed by the scope of the plan and will watch with interest as it is implemented over the next few years. Farmers have had, as we all know, a tough run for some years now and I hope that their fortunes are changing.

I draw the Assembly’s attention to the NFF’s plan to provide an example of the innovative approach that is needed to combat skills shortages. I am aware that the ACT government has undertaken some steps like the Live in Canberra campaign and the business migration program but, as I said earlier, I would like to see a little more initiative and innovation to attract people to live and work in the ACT, particularly when one is conscious of the competing interests from the other major cities of the eastern seaboard.

MR SPEAKER: Just so that people do not despair about how I do this, what I do is, of the people who are standing, try to give it to the person who has had the least opportunity, so now to Mrs Dunne.

DR FOSKEY: Least opportunity for what?

MR SPEAKER: To contribute to the adjournment debate.

Cancer Council—relay for life

Charnwood Carnival

Belconnen Community Service

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.13): I will not dissent from your ruling on this one, but I think I have actually had a fair share this week. But there are a couple of issues that I wanted to raise last night but was unable to do so.

I was privileged to participate last weekend in the Cancer Council’s relay for life. It was a stunningly good community-building event. Mrs Burke and I arrived out at the AIS athletics track at about the same time on Saturday morning, about 7 o’clock. It was quite stunning to walk into what had become a tent city in the course of Friday afternoon and at 7 o’clock in the morning to see a large number, possibly 1,000, people, walking very quietly around and around the athletics track. There was a sort of almost reverential hush. I suppose there were still a few people sleeping and it was quite remarkable to see so many people walking around and making so little noise.

I spent a couple of hours walking and talking with people at the relay for life. Mrs Burke had turned up to help with the breakfast and discovered that there were so many volunteers that her ministrations were unnecessary. I spent some time later in

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