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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 May 2015) . . Page.. 1754 ..

When it comes to spending on vital infrastructure that our economy needs and the business community say they need—if you listened to the business community, you would get this—like a new convention centre, Mr Barr says:

We have not taken ownership of the project. Nor do I believe we should.

When it comes to the government’s attitude to ACT businesses, Mr Barr had this to offer: “The private sector are not exactly stepping up to the plate at the moment. We are going overseas for that, because we don’t think we’re going to get that locally.” Why aren’t you getting it locally? Because you ignore them. Local firms are investing interstate because they cannot get opportunities to invest in the ACT, because your planning system and the way you run business in the ACT is failing them.

Apart from accusing ACT businesses of not stepping up to the plate, where is the government’s head space at? Mr Barr is addressing it through a 20 per cent increase in regulatory fees, a $40 million increase in land tax, a $40 million increase in payroll tax, a 35 per cent increase in the fire and emergency levy—and it just goes on. The truth is that ACT businesses are bankrolling this government and the government does not respect them. That is the problem.

I look forward to the tabling of the quarterly reports tomorrow, and we will see how that dreadful lease variation charge is really doing.

What is going on? The results are pretty clear. This government’s policies are not working for ACT business—for any of them. We only need to look at the last Sensis business index report, which found that the ACT is the least confident state among small and medium enterprises. Although small and medium enterprise attitudes towards the federal government decreased by 11 points, confidence in the ACT government’s policies plummeted by 42 points.

Recall almost this time last year when the Frontier Centre for Public Policy released its entrepreneurial index results comparing state, territory and provincial government business policies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Overall the ACT government’s policies were ranked last amongst jurisdictions in Australia—this is your government, Dr Bourke, that you laud and you praise—and last against all jurisdictions across the three countries. This centre’s key considerations included whether government policies encourage or diminish the capacity for individuals to start up business.

There is the litmus test. This government has failed. What we have is a shepherd who should be caring for his flock. A good shepherd does that: he shears his sheep. Mr Barr simply skins them alive.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (5.56), in reply: I thank the Chief Minister for his contribution to this debate listing the many and varied business development programs supported by this ACT government.

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