Page 1960 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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MR BARR: Last week I unveiled the government’s 2015 business development strategy titled “Confident and Business Ready: Building on Our Strengths”. I launched this renewed strategy in conjunction with the official opening of the new FEI Australia office in Civic, a business that is a prime example of a world-class technology start-up that has emerged in Canberra.

FEI Australia is an excellent example of how we are diversifying and strengthening our local economy. The company is a spin-off from research at the ANU and the University of New South Wales. It was sold last year to FEI International, returning substantial funding to the ANU and other investors. The Australian operations of FEI have remained in Canberra because of the strong relationship it has with the ANU.

A strong and growing economy is essential for us to meet the needs of the Canberra community now and into the future. Our economy will grow and we will create new jobs by building on our strengths in higher education, our service exports and our technological innovation. We must not go back to too heavy a reliance on the federal government ever again, given how casually federal Liberal governments in particular rip thousands of jobs from the Canberra economy on a whim.

That is why the ACT government, through our renewed business development strategy, are continuing to put in place practical policies that create the right business environment and utilise our city’s comparative strengths to accelerate innovation and investment.

We have very good reasons to be confident. The ACT government acted decisively in our recent budget to counter the Abbott government’s cuts. I am pleased that we are, as an economy and as a community, turning the corner. Today’s national accounts now show that the ACT is the strongest performing economy in Australia, growing at 1.4 per cent in the last quarter.

Through this period of savage commonwealth cuts, the ACT government has worked hard to keep unemployment low, to main a AAA stable credit rating and to attract major new international and national level investment in our economy—companies like IKEA, Qantas and Costco.

The 13 priorities and 42 actions that we will deliver through this renewed strategy are supported by $11.75 million of funding in this year’s budget, and there is significant support for these important steps. This is reflected in the comments of our collaborative stakeholders in the development of this policy. Glenn Keys, the Chair of the Canberra Business Chamber, said:

This strategy will continue to support the growth and diversification of our economy with good initiatives and pragmatic policies.

Dr Sarah Pearson, the CEO of the CBR Innovation Network, said:

This strategy provides a clear pathway to growth and economic diversification based on building an innovative and entrepreneurial culture.

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