Page 1581 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017

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agencies. This government—and, it would seem, this Assembly—will oppose any move to do so, not just because it would represent a further attack on the city’s economy but because it would fundamentally compromise the strength and capability of the APS.

The classic case study here is what is happening with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s forced relocation to Armidale. The agency has already lost its skilled and experienced chief executive, although I note that the agency’s loss is the ACT government’s gain in this instance. Twenty of the 100 scientists who work for the authority have already quit. Only a handful of the current staff are planning to make the move to Armidale, depriving this agency of a huge wealth of experience and corporate knowledge. That cost is completely separate from the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that will be wasted physically moving the agency, breaking leases and finding new accommodation. This move, the first case study in this new policy, does not stack up economically or operationally.

We will continue our engagement with the federal government and the senior leadership of the Australian public service to reinforce this point, and we will keep fighting for public service agencies to remain in Canberra, where they belong. Let’s face it: this decentralisation push is the latest, but certainly not the only, example of Canberra-bashing by people whose only exposure to our community comes on the road between the airport and Parliament House. We have all got pretty used to it over the years, I guess, with federal politicians like Joe Hockey joking about tanking our housing market and tabloid commentators labelling Canberrans as paper-pushers, shirkers and Wombles. Just last week we were, somewhat oddly, accused by the Premier of New South Wales of being too effective at the COAG level.

It is time to change the conversation. Attacking Canberra is tired, it is cliched and, frankly, it is now just deeply boring. It is what politicians, journalists and other commentators fall back on when they have run out of other ideas or journalists have gone on strike. We need to start calling this for what it is. The proposal to take jobs out of Canberra and decentralise them is a clear sign that this federal government has no other ideas on growing good, secure jobs in Australia’s regions. It would seem that kicking Canberra is what you do when you cannot come up with a positive and proactive agenda of your own.

Despite this, the ACT government will continue to deliver our positive agenda for this city. Whether that is investment in public transport through stage 2 of light rail, the delivery of our 10-year health plan, the building and renewal of our city’s local schools or pursuing new opportunities for Canberra businesses in export markets, the ACT government will continue to focus on growing and maintaining local jobs whilst building a better city.

We will, and we should always, be the true home of the Australian public service. But that does not mean that we should not aim to develop our own industries, develop our own business hubs, and build on our reputation for creating high value exports. Canberrans can see the difference this focus is making. Jobs growth was up a solid 1.9 per cent in the year to March. There were 4,100 more Canberrans in employment. Business confidence is up since the territory election in 2016. Our local businesses are

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