Page 287 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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DR BOURKE: In relation to the policies, Treasurer, and vision that you have just outlined, would you please advise specific steps that the government has taken in this regard to date and will into the future?

MR BARR: In April of this year I released the business development strategy—growth, diversification and jobs—that makes it easier to do business in Canberra, and it included cuts to payroll tax. This reform is seeing businesses able to employ more people than before, but we know there is more work to do. So I am pleased to say that the government is committed to making further cuts to payroll tax by raising the payroll tax threshold from $1.75 million to $2 million during this term of government.

We also recognise the important role the public sector plays, and that is why we have committed to our strategy of supporting quality public services. Growth in the public service will be measured and responsible over this term of government, and it will be affordable. We have a particular focus on increasing our whole-of-government graduate intake by 10 per cent a year for the next four years to recruit the next generation of public sector leaders.

We will also increase our trainee and apprenticeship intake by at least 10 per cent a year, and we will boost staff in areas of particular frontline service delivery priority. An example of this is an additional 13 doctors, 99 nurses and 12 allied health and support staff to be employed over the next four years.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Can the Treasurer advise members on other policies that the government is implementing to promote and encourage business investment in the ACT, therefore supporting jobs?

MR BARR: Innovation is clearly the foundation for our city’s economic growth and for our ongoing competitiveness, and we are very committed to positioning our city as an innovation hub. That is why the 2012-13 budget included a $20 million investment in innovative programs to further boost the city’s private sector. To outline just a few of those initiatives, they included the expansion of the innovation connect program to further support early stage business innovation, to provide new funding for clean technology and sustainability oriented companies and for major proposals on new innovation infrastructure, and also to create the global connect program to act as a single portal for the various trade development activities that the ACT government undertakes.

The government has also provided funding for a new Canberra brand which will be launched at the end of our centenary year. One aspect of this brand is around ensuring our city is a more attractive place for business investment, to make it easier for businesses to move through the process and set up and expand their operations here. We seek to do that through establishing a new business leverage unit within the Economic Development Directorate.

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