Page 2898 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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government and not well supported by the cabinet. There were some interesting discussions during the Economic Development Directorate’s appearance before the estimates committee.

First and foremost, when you look at business development, there is a long list of programs that the government now has in place. That is because it got rid of them all in 2006, and it has taken a long time to work back up to having a suite of support programs and business assistance programs to make sure that we actually do develop the potential that is here in the ACT.

The directorate developed the strategy that the minister tabled in August last year when he finally found the word “diversification”. Unfortunately, it is a rehash, a rename, a rebadge and a redrawing together of older policies that existed, a large number under the former Liberal government and some in Mr Quinlan’s time as the economic development minister.

The problem will be whether we actually see any action here. The minister often talks about creating the environment and then leaving it up to business. He has made it quite clear that he is not in favour of the old John Button style business programs. Yet the biggest element of funding in the government’s policy is an industry assistance program. It is funding for NICTA, and that is great. I note that yesterday the federal government finally coughed up some more money for NICTA, which is also great. NICTA was, of course, an initiative of the previous federal Liberal government, and it was a bid by the previous ACT Liberal government that got NICTA to the ACT. NICTA is worthy of the support that it gets, but it is interesting to see the difference between the rhetoric and the reality. The thing that is appropriate is probably a balance between the two.

The best thing the government can do is get out of the way of business. We have now got the government’s red-tape reduction program, but the unfortunate thing for the government—it is certainly the unfortunate thing for business—is that most of the red tape they are getting rid of is the red tape this government put in place. I think we all remember the stupidity of the outdoor cafe licensing regime that Mr Corbell presided over where you actually had to get the chairs approved by the bureaucrats that you were using. There were style gurus everywhere. It is very important to make sure that you have got the right balance in the tape. We need to protect the interests of the community, and we certainly need to protect the government, but we need to just reduce the burden.

It will be interesting to see over time whether the committee that the minister has established works. There was a committee that the incoming Labor government in 2001 got rid of, the business and regulatory review team. That was working very well. It worked through a lot of the regulations that existed prior to 2001, and was making some very firm inroads into getting rid of red tape. That went out the door and it is a shame that it has taken more than a decade to get it back.

We note that part of the responsibility is with city to the lake. Closely associated with city to the lake is the new convention centre and the potential for a new stadium. It is interesting that in City to the lake, the glossy production that the government has put

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