Page 1138 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008

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aim is to keep these workers in Canberra. The ACT has a low level of unemployment, and both the private sector and the ACT public service are struggling with skills shortages. Encouraging this potential pool of workers to remain living and working in Canberra would make a real difference in tackling the skills issue.

We are not developing this campaign in isolation. We are working with key organisations, including the Canberra Business Council, the ACT Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the ACT Skills Commission and the Canberra Times. It is a positive collaborative approach that is being implemented. We have also met with the commonwealth Public Service Commission to gain a better understanding of the likely impacts of the commonwealth Labor government’s first budget.

There are undoubtedly some troubled times ahead for the ACT; there is no doubt about that. But I am confident that the ACT economy is resilient, structurally diverse in its intellectual capabilities and capable of absorbing the budgetary impacts. We are on the front foot, and I look forward to the support of the opposition in positively espousing the benefits of what Canberra has to offer its current and future residents and for the Liberal Party to resist the temptation to continually talk down the ACT economy and the ACT.

They need to do that, because they are embarrassed by the fact that, after three and a half years on the crossbench, the Liberal opposition in the Legislative Assembly does not have a single policy position on a single item or issue of policy. They have spent their time unproductively—productively for us—fighting amongst themselves. Mr Smyth has launched campaign against campaign. He has managed to—

DR FOSKEY: It is not the crossbench.

MR STANHOPE: Well, it is across from here. He has managed to actually force the expulsion of his competitor for the leadership and, in so doing, of course, has mortally crippled the opposition and turned it into a laughing stock. Even the Liberal Party’s basis of support—namely, the business community of the ACT—has abandoned the Liberal Party as a credible party—not just a credible alternative government but a credible opposition. Actually, Mr Pratt did rise in my estimation, at a time when Mrs Burke and Mr Smyth went along like the jolly little jumbucks that they are to this breakaway group of disaffected Canberra businessmen and Liberal Party members.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Chief Minister! Tediousness and irrelevance—

MR STANHOPE: They actually joined an organisation devoted to campaigning against the Liberal Party!

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask you to consider relevance, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: Well, I was actually praising your particular insight—

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am not here to be praised, thank you, Chief Minister. I am in the chair.

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