Page 386 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 16 February 2016

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seniors in our community. Members will recall that the ACT active ageing framework 2015-18 and associated action plan were tabled here in the Assembly on 19 November 2015. Many of the framework outcomes have now been implemented across ACT government directorates and within the community.

We have developed an effective working partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the philanthropic arm of one of Australia’s leading aged-care providers—the Illawarra Retirement Trust Foundation—to develop and implement a mature workforce strategy that will assist mature-age workers—50 years of age and over—to remain in the workforce or gain meaningful employment. A tripartite agreement will be signed by the Human Rights Commission, the IRT Foundation and the ACT government during ACT Seniors Week on 16 March.

I am pleased that the portfolio responsibility of veterans’ affairs has been added to my ministerial duties. I look forward to developing strong and effective working relationships with our veterans and those organisations supporting them, including the ACT Veterans’ Advisory Council and the ACT branch of the Returned and Services League. I am committed to working with our veterans to address their issues and also acknowledge their contributions at forthcoming ceremonial and commemorative veterans’ affairs events, including the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in August this year.

As a former small business owner running a successful dental practice, I am very pleased to have the small business portfolio, which recognises the essential role of small business in the ACT’s economy. There are around 26,000 businesses in the ACT. Most—about 96 per cent—are small businesses and most are owner operated. They cover every conceivable form of business activity, from all the traditional trades to services sector businesses, to online sellers, to craft and social enterprises, and everything in between.

For the vast majority of small businesses, the best thing that government can do is to provide a supportive and logical regulatory environment, provide efficient government services which interact with what they do, provide a fair tax system, and manage the economy in a way that supports growth and development. The ACT government’s business development strategy—confident and business ready: building on our strengths—outlines our approach to small business. It is about creating the right business environment, accelerating innovation to create wealth and jobs and supporting business investment in future growth ideas.

The ACT’s strengths are in and around our knowledge economy—digital technology and ICT, spin-offs from our incredibly important tertiary education sector. The commencement of direct flights to Singapore and Wellington later this year will bring many economic benefits to the economy and small businesses, particularly in the hospitality and tourism sector.

I am also pleased to take on the arts portfolio, an area I am passionate about, and I commend the former minister for the great work she did in this area, especially the development of the 2015 arts policy. The arts, craft and culture are integral to our community and the social and economic fabric of Canberra. They help to define our

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