Page 2907 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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commendations for a healthy and active community flies in the face of government axing the smart start for kids program.

We are fortunate in Canberra to have a wealth of sports talent and committed parents who want their children to be healthy. But covered stadia and more seats at major events will not cover for the parents who face ever-increasing charges and substandard facilities for their children just to kick a ball around on a Saturday.

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) (5.26): I thank members for their contributions. The appropriation for the Economic Development Directorate in 2013-14 builds upon an already significant investment in sport and recreation, tourism and events, business support and land release. The government recognises the importance of supporting the private sector in the territory, not only to broaden our economic base but to cushion against any impact from constrained economic circumstances, especially that coming from the commonwealth government.

The budget continues the implementation of the business development strategy. Notably, in addition to the more than $5 million already funded for business innovation, research and support, the government is investing $1.5 million in the global connect program. This will boost funding for the suite of programs to raise awareness among territory businesses about exporting opportunities, promote further collaboration amongst local exporters, increase the number of local exporters and help them to enter into new markets.

In response to the comment made by the shadow treasurer in relation to industry assistance, I would draw his attention to what I believe to be the biggest provision of industry assistance in the territory—that is, our payroll tax threshold being about a million dollars higher than New South Wales. If we were to adopt the New South Wales payroll tax regime, the territory would collect around $70 million more in payroll tax.

I point out to the shadow treasurer that the single biggest industry assistance provision for the ACT government in this area would be not collecting payroll tax and having the highest payroll tax threshold in the nation. So we are not churning the money through government. We are not collecting it and then spending it on business assistance. We are not collecting the tax in the first place. That, I think, is the correct policy setting.

In terms of other assistance for business through this budget, we will continue our investment in the Canberra Convention Bureau. The bureau’s work is supported across all parties in this place, and the additional $400,000 provided meets our election commitment and boosts Canberra’s profile as a business event destination.

In the context of the tourism and event industry for the ACT, tourism, hospitality and allied industries contribute about $1.65 billion to the territory economy each year, and there are about 16,000 people employed in this area. The government’s commitment to tourism and major events is evidenced through the $11.5 million of new funding

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