Page 503 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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changed in this city since then, with the ACT Labor government working in partnership with business to support the introduction of direct international flights to Singapore and Wellington in September last year, and soon to Doha with Qatar Airways.

There will soon be more aircraft entering our airspace through a new international freight link. This is very exciting for Canberra businesses and the economy. The introduction of international air freight at Canberra Airport means 293 more jobs in the ACT and economic benefits of up to $37 million per year. The freight market will continue to contribute to the service exports which were worth $1.7 billion in 2015-16, in addition to our $508 million in education exports. Improving freight services for imports and exports is vital to continue our economic growth, and improving passenger flight services is important for the burgeoning education sector in our territory as well.

The motion is an important one. It acknowledges the benefits of securing direct international flights to Canberra Airport and the passenger and freight benefits that brings. It acknowledges that this government is investing in major infrastructure initiatives which support local businesses and industry.

The economic indicators show that the ACT is a strongly performing economy, and our government will continue to put in place the reforms and investment to ensure that the fundamentals remain strong.

I want to end by noting my deep concern about the coalition’s continued policy of removing government departments and agencies from Canberra. While there is room to be optimistic about Canberra’s business environment, this does not mean that our economy will not suffer blows under the Liberal and National parties in government.

The federal coalition continues to tear at Canberra’s foundations by threatening to remove more public servants out of the ACT in baseless pork barrelling. They have already taken the decision to relocate the APVMA to Armidale, despite the adverse business case and unanimous criticism by stakeholders. The latest call by the Deputy Prime Minister for regional communities outside the ACT to bid on their favourite agency for relocation must be publicly repudiated by all members in this place, as it has been on the Labor side.

If this dislocation continues it will be disruptive to our communities and businesses and will result in hollowing out of employment and demand in our city, leaving more buildings like the Lovett Tower in my electorate empty. This recklessness has the potential to tear down business confidence in the ACT economy that our government has worked so hard to build. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (4.15): What a nice little window-dressing this motion is today. It clearly paints a one-sided view of what those opposite think are the perception, the attitude and the mood within the business community in the ACT.

I think it is important to note in starting that quite clearly—and we saw it last sitting in many of the inaugural speeches by the newly elected members opposite—their true

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