Page 2119 - Week 06 - Thursday, 8 June 2017

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We continue our focus on an export led economic growth strategy for the territory by further investments in this budget to back our local exporters. We are continuing to expand the ACT’s high impact innovation programs, supporting key industry sectors to develop their strengths, their trade and their investment facilitation opportunities. The programs to connect Canberra companies with the world and to bring more business to our city will help maintain these very high levels of growth into the future.

MR STEEL: How will the 2017 budget back the 26,000 Canberra based businesses that employ local workers and contribute to the ongoing diversification of our economy?

MR BARR: Again, it is a very simple proposition that a city of our size, 400,000 people, will not grow rich and add to our wealth by buying and selling from ourselves. That is why we simply must be more nationally and internationally engaged. We seek to support our exporters. We seek to support the growth of those service industries where we have a comparative advantage.

Higher education is a very good example of this. Service exports have increased. Nearly one in three of the dollars we earn in this city from exports come from our higher education sector. This sector is poised for rapid growth into the future. The ACT government is making a series of strategic investments in the higher education sector—through our partnerships particularly with the University of Canberra but also with the ANU, the University of New South Wales Canberra, the Australian Catholic University and our own Canberra Institute of Technology—to further develop the higher education sector for our city. It is a priority. We want to see more international students in our city. We want to see more Australian students coming to Canberra to study.

One in nine Canberrans either work or study at one of our city’s higher education institutions. There are 16,000 people employed. It is a real growth engine for the ACT economy and one that the territory government will continue to support over the coming years. I look forward to making a range of further announcements in the coming 12 months that will further demonstrate our commitment to growing higher education in Canberra.

MS CODY: Chief Minister, how is the ACT government continuing to make the territory’s tax base fairer, more stable and more efficient through stage 2 of the government’s significant tax reform program?

MR BARR: The government’s first stage of tax reforms involved the abolition of all tax on insurance in the ACT, with the ACT becoming the first state or territory to completely abolish tax on all insurance products. We are also now significantly advanced in our program of stamp duty reductions, focusing particularly on the affordable end of the housing market.

We increased the territory’s payroll tax-free threshold to $2 million. This is the highest threshold of any state or territory in Australia. This means that 23,500 of the

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