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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 February 2017) . . Page.. 512 ..

In summary, better, greener public transport initiatives, greater use of renewable energy and potentially greater use of the sharing economy not only promote economic
diversification but make this city smarter, greener and a better place for everyone to live.

I would like to finish by reminding members that while we are pursuing our economic diversification, we need to keep in mind those in our community who do not have the economic opportunities that the majority of Canberrans do. As the government moves forward with its agenda, we need to make sure that no Canberrans are forgotten. Increasingly, for some in our community, it is difficult, or impossible, to find affordable accommodation or, unfortunately, even any accommodation. Sustainable housing—sustainable economically, environmentally and socially—needs to be one of the key areas for infrastructure investment in Canberra.

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (4.46): I thank Ms Cody for moving today’s important motion and noting the very important work this government is doing to make sure our economy continues to grow and diversify and offer opportunities to all Canberrans. In our commitment to diversifying the ACT economy it is critical that we have a strong focus on the higher education sector. It is a key priority. This is an essential sector for our economy and our community, and I will allow the numbers to paint the picture of exactly why this is the case.

Higher education value-adds $2.75 billion to Canberra’s economy each year and creates approximately 16,000 full time equivalent jobs. This represents nearly eight per cent of our gross state product and eight per cent of our employment. Higher education is Canberra’s largest export, with a 2014 Deloitte Access Economics report showing that students from outside of Canberra contributed approximately $879 million to Canberra’s economy and created approximately 6,100 jobs. This contribution is sure to have increased significantly since that time as this government continues to focus on growing this sector.

We know that from 2014 to 2016 the ACT recorded growth in excess of 16 per cent in enrolments and 11 per cent for international student starts across the sector. The overall increase in commencements included seven per cent increase in higher education, 29 per cent in vocational education and training, 17 percent in ACT schools, 13 per cent in English language intensive courses for overseas students, and 12 per cent in non-award study. This equates to an extra 750 international students in Canberra who each contribute significantly to the economic and social fabric of the community.

Under this government those numbers only represent a benchmark, a measure for things to come. Late last year the Chief Minister launched our international education strategy, “Canberra: Australia’s education capital”. This seeks to build on this performance, leaving no doubt that Canberra can rightly claim to be Australia’s education and research capital.

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