Page 3403 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 19 August 2009

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small businesses that participated and benefited—from delivering the stove to the brickies and the painters. Reality is one thing; your interpretation of it is clearly another and you are welcome to your own interpretation.

Small business makes a huge contribution to the national economy and, indeed, to our local economy. As has been mentioned, in the ACT we have around 24,000 small businesses that embody just about every conceivable form of business activity in a modern economy. This town has been branded a government town but now we have the benefit of having private sector employment greater than that of the public sector.

As I have said, Mr Speaker, if you look at the national accounts data the ACT’s non-government share of gross state product is indeed higher than the government’s share. The business sector, and within it small business, does play a very significant part in the economic fabric of this city. But we still recognise that public sector strongly shapes and drives our private sector.

Canberra’s lead industries—public administration, defence, education and research, and cultural heritage—stimulate our businesses and other industries. I go to those comments from members opposite who seem to demean the public sector and demean the benefit that that sector brings to our town. I think it is a slight on public sector employees and the businesses that service that sector.

For example, it has given rise to a strong business and construction sector, a burgeoning ICT industry, unique capabilities in housing and urban development, growing capabilities in biotechnology and environmental services, a broader creative industry, financial and professional services, tourism, hospitality plus a diverse retail sector. In this knowledge-rich city there are still many traditional small and micro businesses that we as citizens and other businesses rely on each day—the newsagent, the plumber, the electrician, the local supermarket, the takeaway and our favourite coffee shops and bakeries.

Our private sector is vibrant and diverse. This year’s Hot 30 Under30 awards run by Anthill Magazine featured Dr Sam Prince, a Canberra-based medical doctor and entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio of enterprises including the Zambrero Fresh Mex Grill, a national chain of Mexican restaurants and the Emagine Foundation, which provides IT infrastructure to developing countries. This business employs 34 people and generates a combined turnover of over $1 million.

The ACT government is committed to providing an environment that supports the establishment of small businesses and enables them to grow and to realise their potential. We do this through responsible financial management and developing our economic and social infrastructure. This helps to maintain the competitiveness of our economy and to encourage business innovation. We also do this through a multilayered business program environment with well conceived programs that help firms accelerate their development and learning and assist them to seek out new opportunities.

The government also promotes business development in the broader region through its involvement in bodies such as Regional Development Australia ACT, which is a joint initiative with the Australian government. The ACT government facilitates skilled

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