Page 3495 - Week 08 - Thursday, 18 August 2011

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What some of these numbers that we have had presented today, and some of the economic conditions both nationally and internationally, do say to me is that (1) there is opportunity there and (2) there is also a need to note that should we get to the stage where a federal government suffered a downturn—and that may occur in the next couple of years under the Gillard government, or other governments may feel the need to cut—clearly the people of the ACT are the ones that suffer.

If we really want to buttress against those sorts of effects then what we need is a much larger private sector. I think we all acknowledge that a lot of the private sector really does depend on federal government or ACT government spending. But there are opportunities to diversify the market. I know the minister has promised, now that we have a Minister for Economic Development, some strategies and statements in coming years, and we will be looking forward to these strategies.

Mr Barr: I’m not going to have industry plans for everything, though. I hope you understand that.

MR SMYTH: The minister quips that we are not going to need strategic plans for all these things. That is not entirely true. That is not entirely what I have said, but there are sectors where the government does play a crucial role and it is very important that the government acknowledges that. But if we are going to look for opportunities to support, if we are looking for opportunities to diversify the economy and to support the business community—in a way, the combination of Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development in one minister is a good opportunity. I note the steady approach that we have had today. I look forward to that approach growing and I look forward to jousting with the minister in the future about what we actually can do in the ACT.

There are numerous good ideas that are developed in the ACT, in government and not in government. The shame for us is that so many of those ideas are exported outside the territory to the states, or exported outside the country to other places where they are developed and taken to their fullest. The opportunity is here to reduce our reliance on the federal government. It is up to the minister, certainly for the next 62 weeks, to champion that.

Mr Barr: Have you got it down to days and hours as well?

MR SMYTH: Do you want days and hours? I can give you days and hours. It is 62 weeks; today is Thursday, so Friday would be a full day and then there would be about 20 hours after that until the polls close. I do look forward to it, minister. But I do look forward to what you have to say in the future. What you have said here, in the main, is correct, in regard to things beyond our control and the international circumstances. But there are opportunities in our economy that have not been exercised. They should be, and some of that requires leadership.

On one hand, when you were talking about risk, I think of the old statement, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But sometimes leadership from governments can overcome that fear and sometimes governments having strategies and plans in place assist others to have confidence about where the economy is going and what

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