Page 1249 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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I know the Chief Minister loves to go to repetition and loves to attack those that have done a good job when he cannot answer the question. We have had repeated questions this week, we have had an MPI and we have this motion now asking the Chief Minister to outline what he will do, and he cannot do it. He attacks, he repudiates, he goes to everything that he can think of talking about, except his own achievements. Let us do the comparison: the Howard government from 1996 to 2007 had to deal with the Asian economic meltdown, the fallout from the attacks on the USA on 11 September, the economic difficulties in Russia, the collapse of major global companies based in the USA, the tsunami—

Members interjecting—

MR SMYTH: They found $1 billion to help out. They were quite able to cope because of good economic management. There is the conflict in Iraq. They funded Timor; they were able to cope with the HIH collapse, the Ansett collapse and with SARS. It will be interesting to see how Mr Stanhope copes with the cuts that the Rudd government is about to bring in.

This is an important motion because it talks about the economic base. In question time today Mr Barr got up and he talked about the mismanagement of training by the Howard government. It is not true, Mr Speaker. It is quite easy to see that the investment in vocational education and training in 1996 was $1.1 billion. At the end of 2007 it was $2.9 billion, almost three times as much. The number of apprentices in training in 1996 was 154,800 and 414,319 in March 2007. Again, they talk without basis, because they are embarrassed that they cannot outline what they will do to diversify the economic base.

The next point in the motion talks about the failure of the Stanhope government to maintain the trend in increasing the relevant proportion of employment in the private sector in the ACT. When we left office in 2001, almost 60 per cent of Canberrans were employed in the private sector. That has now fallen to 55 per cent and is trending back to us becoming a one-company town—that is, public sector employment. The problem with this government is they hate business, and they show it in their policies and what they have done.

We only need to look at the 2006-07 budget to see that the government gutted the areas devoted to economic development in the ACT, such as Business ACT and Tourism ACT. It is really interesting. The Chief Minister has quoted from his innovation report—”Gee, I’ve got a problem. What will I do? I’ll commission a report.” What does the report actually say about this government? Its first recommendation is that there be some leadership—yes, Chief Minister, leadership. There is no leadership in business development, particularly innovation, in the ACT. The innovation report refers to creating and leveraging sector linkages. Recommendation 5 is that the ACT government give consideration to making further investments to build capability. Investments—that is, put dollars in, bring the programs back that you gutted in the budget in 2006-07 because you got it wrong.

We used to have the knowledge fund, but what is recommendation 6? The ACT government should establish an ideas fund. Does that sound familiar? Of course it is

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