Page 208 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

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no-one in local industry has ever told me that they need special advantages. No-one is asking for special advantages. They are asking for a level playing field when they compete for government contracts.

I am pleased the industry stakeholders from across a wide variety of industry sectors in the ACT who I consulted with in advance of making the announcement of the local industry advocate are very positive about this role. They have provided feedback that this reform will improve business confidence. As we know, improved confidence is a very important economic indicator. When businesses are more confident, they are more likely to invest and employ staff.

The first job of the local industry advocate will be to work with local industry players to recommend where further improvements can be made to government procurement processes. I need to stress here that we operate within an environment of free trade agreements, signed by our national government, between our country and other countries, and there are requirements under the Australian Constitution for free trade between the Australian states and territories. So there are limits on this.

I would like our advocate to focus on areas where requests for tender, policies or even legislation, where that is possible, are geared to larger companies and make it more difficult for smaller and local firms, where these might be addressed and where we might have more innovative solutions that will achieve the outcomes that we desire.

One of my priorities as Chief Minister, as I am sure members are aware, is to have a greater focus on regulatory reform and to drive red tape reduction. One of my first decisions as Chief Minister was to establish a new one-stop shop called Access Canberra to better connect small and larger businesses to ACT government services. This new agency brings together shopfronts and regulatory bodies from across the ACT public service into a single agency. The important thing here is that from a business perspective there is one place to go to get all of your approvals—not the previous arrangements where you had to go to four or five or sometimes six or seven different areas of government.

This single agency will make it easier for business, but, importantly, it also makes it easier for community organisations and individuals who might want to stage an event or an activity that requires a range of ACT government permits and approvals. This will make it easier for business, community organisations and individuals to work with ACT government. In simple terms, Access Canberra is there to be a leader and an enabler for business and to encourage local organisations to innovate, invest and grow whilst continuing to provide the appropriate protections for citizens and the community in their important regulatory roles.

While it is in its early days, the service is available for small, medium and large businesses, community groups and individuals who seek access to permits, approvals and licences that are needed to establish a new business, expand a business, run an event in the territory or run a larger event in the territory. During this establishment phase, Access Canberra is engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders—organisations and individual businesses—to discuss how engagement with ACT government directorates can be streamlined.

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