Page 500 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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To support business innovation and investment, the ACT government has driven the establishment of the Canberra innovation network, which also incorporates the ANU, the University of Canberra, UNSW Canberra, CSIRO, Data61 and the Canberra Institute of Technology. The opportunities that these institutions provide to translate specialist knowledge into commercialisation opportunities are significant. They will position Canberra as a world leader in areas such as defence technologies, cyber security, space and spatial technologies, renewable energy, ICT and e-government, health innovation and sports science.

For businesses to grow and prosper, they need first-class infrastructure and, for those in the construction industry, a steady, reliable pipeline of infrastructure construction going forward. This is why, over the next four years, the ACT government will deliver a record infrastructure investment program exceeding $2.9 billion. This includes over $2 billion for capital works, information and communication technology projects, and plant and equipment.

Our support for the business sector and its positive outlook for the future mean more jobs for Canberrans. Indeed, over the past year employment growth was a solid two per cent, or 4,300 extra jobs, of which 3,300 jobs were full time. The ACT’s unemployment rate is also low, standing at 3.7 per cent in December 2016. This is the second lowest of any state or territory and below the national average of 5.8 per cent.

These successes should be celebrated, but they are not making us complacent. Recently I met with the Phillip Business Community, a group of people who, after a long day at work, put some of their own time aside to work collectively to improve the community where they do business. Whilst a meeting of business leaders may not seem the most natural habitat for a Labor member, I can report that I had much to offer in this collaboration.

The ACT Labor government is not just providing excellent business conditions; by continuing to deliver reforms like Access Canberra’s provision of a one-stop-shop to cut red tape and with various stimulus grants in the Chief Minister’s own portfolios of economic development and tourism, we are able to support entrepreneurs and business to grow and flourish.

I refer to businesses like Sassy Hair. This hairdressing salon is owned and operated by a lovely young local couple who employ around 13 hairdressers and apprentices. Daniel and Rebecca have worked hard to build this business and provide an opportunity for Canberrans to start an apprenticeship, build on existing skills and work in a secure and supportive environment. Sassy Hair is not the only small business that has flourished over the past 12 years under progressive Labor governments, but it is a very good example of a young local family supporting their community by providing jobs, training and vibrancy.

So far I have outlined many of the achievements of the government and our plan to stimulate business, but I have left the jewel out of the crown. The jewel in the crown of Labor’s achievements for business, acknowledged by all but the most economically

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