Page 3387 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

(2) recognises the establishment of the Canberra Small and Micro Business Forum which will convene in September 2009.

I welcome the opportunity to speak about the contribution of our local business sector. Whilst Canberra is seen by many as a public service town, it often surprises people to learn of the diversity and the level of private sector companies doing business here in the ACT. I would like to begin by talking a bit about that, as well as highlighting some of the great local success stories here in Canberra.

Overall, the ACT private sector comprises businesses covering everything from multinationals right down to micro businesses servicing the larger businesses, the public sector and, importantly, the needs of our local community. As a former small business owner for some five years, I understand the demands of running a small business and the benefits that small business brings to our community. Small business owners are the masters of multiskilling and multi-tasking. They are often the manager, the marketer and the financial controller, as well as being the hardest worker in the business.

When we look at the national accounts data, the ACT’s non-government share of gross state product is higher than the government’s share. The national accounts data also shows exports at around $1.01 billion, which is very significant contribution to the ACT’s overall gross state product. Similarly, private investment was in excess of $3.5 billion in 2007-08 and, as a share of the GSP, it has risen from around 12 per cent in 1999-2000 to nearly 16 per cent in 2007-08.

In the ACT the private sector employs around 10,000 workers, compared with around 95,000 workers employed in the public sector. There are around 24,000 small and micro businesses in the ACT, with around 13,000 being home based or non-employing; that is, home-based sole operators. These figures are worth reflecting on when you consider that our total population is 340,000-odd people.

It would seem that around one in eight Canberra households has a business lurking behind the front door or perhaps, as a basic business start-up location, their garage. Some 20 years ago that is precisely where Jason Hart was—in his garage, which I am pleased to say is in my home suburb of Chisholm. By 2004 his business was the fastest growing Australian software developer in terms of revenue and employment growth. Jason is now internationally recognised as a business leader who has pioneered several successful private and public companies and has been recognised by Deloittes as one of Australia’s top producing software exporters.

It is the hard work of Canberra businesspeople that has helped the ACT economy to grow. Last year Canberra cracked the magic billion dollar mark in export earnings—not bad for an economy with no mining exports. There are countless examples of other local and small business success stories that I could talk about, but I would like to recognise just a few.

Last year, the Centre for Customs and Excise was a national category winner in the Australian Export Awards. It was started at the University of Canberra less than nine years ago. A couple of months ago two Canberra companies, Admin Bandit and Healthcube, picked up national I-Awards for their achievements in the ICT sector.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .