Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 August 2017) . . Page.. 2716 ..
ACT government will support them and the rest of our community to be engaged in sport, no matter what sport that is.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (4.47): I would like to take this opportunity to speak about my portfolio responsibilities in relation to the higher education, research and training sector and why the ACT government is taking a very active and considered approach to this critical sector in the ACT economy. Of course, I say this after the very exciting announcement made by the Chief Minister earlier today about the possibility of a second University of New South Wales campus here in the ACT. The government will be doing the work to develop an MOU over the course of the next few months with the University of New South Wales.
The ACT government is one of the few state or territory-level governments that have a dedicated minister for higher education and research, which demonstrates our strong commitment to the sector and the importance it has for the future of economic development in Canberra. Our last official data showed that in 2014 the sector added $2.7 billion to Canberra’s economy and about 16,000 jobs. Of this $2.7 billion, about one-third was the contribution of international and interstate students. The remainder was the non-student contribution: staffing and administrative costs of the education sector, along with research organisations such as CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and Data61.
Since then, education exports have increased by 21 per cent and now contribute $579 million per annum to Canberra’s economy. While updated data is not yet available for the other components, a conservative estimate would now value the sector at at least $3 billion per annum in value-added economic activity. To put this in perspective, recent data indicates that the defence industry contributes approximately $4.3 billion per annum to Canberra’s economy and the tourism industry approximately $1.9 billion per annum.
But beyond the economic data there is the human dimension to the higher education and research sector that is worth reflecting on. At any one time, there are around 44,000 students, of which 14,000 are overseas students experiencing Canberra and relaying their experiences to the world. And just over 18 per cent of all Australian government funded R&D is performed right here in Canberra—or, looking at it another way, about one in every nine resident Canberrans are either working directly in the sector or are a full-time student. Then there is the relationship that the sector has with our broader community—the business community, the major commonwealth agencies and employers—as well as its role in the arts, health, sports and many others.
Successive ACT governments have worked closely with the sector and its institutions, and many important projects have been delivered with great outcomes. The deed of agreement negotiated with ANU some years ago has transformed the western edge of the CBD, and this town-to-gown nexus continues to grow and add life to our city, with benefits for the broader community.