Page 2723 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 15 August 2017

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Let me give a hypothetical example. If all public sector activity in the ACT was in, say, the Defence portfolio, and that was the only portfolio where we had public sector activity, diversification in the public sector would mean other areas of the public sector growing. Similarly, going to the private sector, if we were a one-company town where there was only one major private sector employer or one that was dominant, for example, we could look at what has been experienced in South Australia in relation to the ending of the motor vehicle industry in that state. They do not have a diverse private sector, so one industry goes and that is it for them. They are very difficult economic circumstances.

So diversity is not just about the relative share of public versus private. It is about more than that. It is about how many different sectors or areas of activity make up the totality of our economy. That is what we are seeking to do. We are seeking more diversity in the public sector, more diversity in the private sector, continuing growth, supporting growth in both sectors. It is not a competition. You can grow the public sector and the private sector. They are not mutually exclusive. That is what our government is seeking to do.

Finally, in relation to commentary on the convention centre, I simply repeat the points that I have made ad nauseam over the last 10 years, I think, in relation to this debate. This century we have had one election in the territory where a political party took to that election building a convention centre and funding it as the centrepiece of their economic strategy, putting all of their resources and essentially all of their capital expenditure into that platform. That was the Brendan Smyth led Liberal Party in 2004. If those opposite were serious about the convention centre they could have run on it in 2008; they could have run on it in 2012. Mr Hanson could have run on it in 2016. But there have now been three elections where it has not been the centrepiece of the Canberra Liberals’ election agenda. That is fine. I have no problems with that. You make up your own mind as to what you want to run for election on. But for the last three elections it has not been your policy. You have not put any significant money aside for a convention centre. I think the former Leader of the Opposition might have put $2 million aside for a study, but there has been no serious commitment since Brendan Smyth in 2004.

It is very hard to take seriously any commentary from anyone opposite that we are not doing enough to build a convention centre when it has not been your policy for the last three elections either. I would take you seriously, and perhaps the business community and other people would take you seriously, if you were prepared to get up now or at some point in the next few years and commit to $700 million, $800 million or $900 million or whatever you would like to commit to for a convention centre.

Mr Coe: Is it a billion? Is it a billion yet?

MR BARR: It could be over time. It depends on what you build. By the time you get to the mid-2020s, through escalation, inflation and the like, it could well have got to $1 billion. It depends on what you want to commit to. I have been clear, time and again, that it is not my government’s number one infrastructure priority. Yes, it sits within a list of projects that would be dozens long.

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