Page 1133 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008

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For years I have been saying—we took it to the last election—we need to diversify the ACT economy. What is the Chief Minister’s response to that? Simply, “Woe is me. I’ve got a very narrow economic base and I don’t know what to do with it.” There has been no genuine attempt, either through encouragement of research and development of new industries or through the creation of new—

Mr Stanhope: Heard of NICTA? Have you heard of NICTA?

MR SMYTH: The Chief Minister interjects, “NICTA.” Well, the bid for NICTA started under the former Liberal government, as did things like Epicorp. Epicorp is a prime example of what is going on. Epicorp is at risk because the Chief Minister does nothing to assist it. Epicorp, I understand, is potentially about to lose its accommodation at the CSIRO building at the base of Black Mountain. Epicorp was a bid put together under the auspices of the then Liberal government to secure a research and development facility to diversify the ACT’s economic base. We beat all comers. We took the majority of the funding that was on offer from the then federal government and we set up Epicorp in the ACT, and it has been very successful. The question now is: what will happen to it under a Rudd government with the assistance of a Stanhope Labor government? There is a classic example of what we did, and it worked.

Mr Stanhope is very, very keen to take the credit for NICTA, but they were in the race for NICTA because we started the race. They are only there today because we started the race.

Mr Barr: Right, yes! Absolutely!

MR SMYTH: It is interesting that Mr Barr wants to join the event.

Mr Stanhope: You were going to do something, were you?

MR SMYTH: No, no, we did it. We started the race. We started the work on that. We came up with the ideas. You may have finished it, as you finished things like the link and as you finished things like GDE, but we started that work, and you know it. You should give some credit where credit is due.

The interesting thing is that Mr Barr joins the fray. He interjects to protect his Chief Minister. It is interesting. The planning authority under Simon Corbell set back the building of the NICTA building how many times? How many times did they have to go back and have their plans reassessed? Was it two? Was it three? Was it four? Perhaps the planning minister will get up and talk about how the planning regime—

Mr Stanhope: Is it the best building in Canberra?

MR SMYTH: I like the building; I think it is a great building. I think there are a number of buildings in that quadrant that are very attractive buildings. But it was slowed up so much, and it was not the outside appearance that slowed it up, and you know it.

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