Page 986 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013
targeted and well-considered government investment in social enterprise can make a real difference to many people’s lives. In the area of TAMS, for example, initiatives like the Koomarri and Black Mountain disability programs at Yarralumla Nursery are beneficial to all parties. Areas such as waste management, horticulture, cleaning and catering are all key areas for boosting the level of social employment.
In conclusion, we need businesses and infrastructure to deliver better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extracting and using fewer natural resources, creating less waste and reducing social disparities. We know we can do this, that it is in our economic interest to do so, and that just about every sector of our economy wants this to occur. It will create jobs and ultimately make the ACT more environmentally and economically sustainable.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (4.23): As the territory approaches its second century, Canberrans can be rightly proud of our modern and thriving economy. The territory now has a private sector that is dynamic and innovative and that is playing a large role in our economy. There are now more than 25,000 businesses in the territory with investment exceeding $2 billion per year. Canberra has Australia’s highest average incomes and a workforce with the highest average levels of educational attainment.
There is no immutable law of economics that states that an economy or region will continue to grow as our city has done in recent years. Economies and regions that do not adapt to changing economic circumstances risk stagnation, and it is no secret that economies in the Western world are moving inexorably towards focusing on knowledge as the basis for their economic growth. Where once communities relied on agriculture or on manufacturing, nowadays it is creativity and knowledge that are the basis for economic growth. In such times, creating knowledge-intensive jobs is the key to prospering in our globalised and connected 21st century economy, and there are few better examples of where this is happening than right here in Canberra.
It is no secret that the territory’s economy is focused around government, government services, but other knowledge-based sectors such as design, legal and accounting services, consulting, information and communications technology, and research and education play a very strong role. Again, to use the language of economics, it is where Canberra’s comparative advantage lies. It is our strength. It is a strength that the ACT government is helping the private sector to build upon.
Through our support for education, notably higher education, we are making Canberra a centre of educational excellence and we are helping to create a workforce that is skilled and creative and a workforce that has the tools and knowledge to prosper in the 21st century. Through our support for the private sector and our business development strategy the government is putting in place the conditions in which our firms and entrepreneurs can continue to thrive and continue to create jobs.
Nevertheless, the public sector will, of course, continue to play a vital role in our economy, and, as such, decisions on the level of spending and employment taken by