Page 959 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for the question. The report of the ACT innovation system prepared by Howard Partners, which I released on 19 March, is a very significant piece of work that contains key messages for all Canberrans—for the business community, for our public sector research organisations, for the creative sector, and indeed for the public sector, which should not be immune from a conversation about innovation here in the ACT.

Innovation is important. A greater focus on innovation is necessary to enable us to convert the territory’s considerable capabilities and endowments to enduring economic outcomes—outcomes that also support our social and societal aspirations. We all know that in recent years the ACT has experienced sustained economic growth and improvements in living standards. The challenge for us now is to ensure that this momentum is sustained well into the future.

Systemic innovation is at the heart of any well-functioning economy. The ACT economy is unique among the Australian jurisdictions. We have no ports or mines, no agriculture of major significance—nor any large-scale manufacturing activities. These sectors, which are international in their scope, are often the vehicles of innovation in our Australian jurisdictions.

However, the territory does have a highly service-oriented economy with an undeniable link to the business of government. We also have a huge asset in our human capital—some of the nation’s best and brightest minds. We have internationally renowned research and education institutions, including the ANU, the University of Canberra, CSIRO and NICTA—organisations that have distinguished themselves amongst their peers in their respective fields for their high-quality research activities.

By undertaking this study into the innovation system, we have gained a much deeper insight into the ACT innovation system. We now appreciate that it extends far beyond our significant capacity in the scientific research and development fields. The study notes the importance of creativity to the innovation process and the creative industry sectors, including art and design and the national collecting institutions. By building on the strong foundations we already have, we will enhance our innovation capability in the territory and we will be better positioned to compete globally to be at the forefront of world’s best practice.

Innovation policy has been actively pursued at all levels of government within Australia and across other economies. Organisations such as the OECD and the EU have strong innovation agendas. I think members would recall that earlier this year the commonwealth government announced its own review of the national innovation system, with the idea of ensuring that Australia remains among the world leaders in innovation.

It is pleasing that the initiative in commissioning this particular study by Howard Partners precedes the Australian government’s and as such puts us in a strong position to provide significant input to the national review and some of the other program initiatives around innovation that the commonwealth is looking at at the moment.

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