Page 954 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013

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domestic work, support for Australia to win business abroad and measures to help small and medium size enterprises to grow and to create new jobs. There are several key areas within this innovation statement that the ACT will look at with interest.

Firstly, expanding the Australian industry participation framework, requiring major projects worth $500 million or more to develop plans for local procurement. This initiative, which is mainly directed at major infrastructure and resource projects, will provide greater scope for ACT and capital region companies to get full, fair and reasonable access to supply contracts to major projects around the country.

The second key area of focus is the establishment of industry innovation precincts which will use cluster strategies to link businesses and research capability to create globally competitive hubs. Two such precincts have already been announced for Melbourne and Adelaide. Another eight precincts will be established through a competitive selection process with stakeholders, including state and territory governments. So there are excellent opportunities for the ACT to bid for its own precinct as part of this process.

Two particular opportunities present themselves. First, the citywide rollout of the national broadband network by 2015 will certainly help mount a case for a digital innovation precinct, and a further option will be a precinct providing solutions for government, including new growth opportunities and leadership development leveraging from the growth opportunities and leadership and development fund. This fund supports high-growth potential SMEs in areas of finance, business advice, market intelligence, technology and research expertise.

The third key element of the statement is significant measures to help Australian small and medium sized businesses to grow and create new jobs. Venture Australia, which the plan has announced, will provide a valuable new source of support for venture capital to improve SME access to high-risk finance for knowledge-based firms. This measure, together with a $350 million funding boost for the innovation investment fund program and, importantly, reform of the venture capital tax arrangements, should boost the number of domestic and international private company investors. The enterprise connect advisory services will be extended into non-manufacturing sectors, such as professional services, ICT, transport and logistics. This is a very important point. This is significant for the territory as it will open this program to many of the knowledge intensive business service SMEs that are so significant to sustain the growth and development of the territory.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Treasurer, how does the statement fit with the ACT government’s support for the private sector and work already underway to support local business and innovation?

MR BARR: Members would be aware that the government issued its business development strategy—growth, diversification and jobs—last year, and it sets out the policy directions, initiatives and programs to encourage, growth, economic diversification and job creation in the territory economy.

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