Page 1137 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008

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economy, we have to acknowledge that economic diversity opportunities are limited, but we do have strengths in other areas.

Canberra was established to provide governance for the nation, and it is these intellectual resources that provide Canberra’s natural advantage. Last month I launched the report on the study of the innovation system. The report outlines the ACT government’s commitment to enhancing Canberra’s knowledge economy credentials—our natural economic strength—as well as capabilities in research and development and innovation to ensure that the ACT economy continues to expand and is globally competitive.

By facilitating ongoing enhancement of these tertiary sectors, the ACT government can continue to harness its R&D and creative innovation capabilities and maintain its competitive advantage. The ACT has experienced significant growth in infrastructure investment from all sectors of the economy. In fact, according to the statistics released by the ABS in March 2008, investment spending in the ACT set a new record of $5.3 billion during 2007. ACT Treasury anticipates that there is over $4 billion in major projects committed or proposed, with a high degree of certainty in the ACT commercial property market over the next three years. That is a position supported, too, by Access Economics.

Some of the more significant projects include construction of the Australian National University Exchange for around $600 million; construction of a $460 million office building to house ASIO and the Office of National Assessments; new Department of Defence office buildings for around $300 million to $600 million; construction and redevelopment of office buildings along Constitution Avenue, at a cost of $250 million; a $350 million development at York Park for the commonwealth Department of Environment and Water Resources; and a $200 million development of section 63.

In addition to this construction, almost $300 million has been budgeted by the ACT government for capital works over the next four years. That includes a new secondary school in Gungahlin, a new school in Tuggeranong, major roadworks around the airport and in Tuggeranong, and a multistorey car park at the Canberra Hospital.

Residential construction is also strong. The annual value of residential construction in the past five years has been just under $900 million. There are expectations that this should increase further, with large land releases planned by the LDA over the next two to three years and demand for new housing expected to remain strong. It is likely that the value of the ACT’s construction sector will be in the vicinity of $1.5 billion annually over the next two to three years.

Unlike the opposition, the ACT government looks for the opportunities that could be derived from the budgetary reforms of the commonwealth that the commonwealth has to implement as a result of the Howard-Costello legacy of incompetent financial management. I recently announced that the ACT government will commence a recruitment campaign in the coming weeks aimed at attracting the commonwealth workers potentially affected by federal budget cuts to the ACT public service. Our

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