Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Chief Minister's ‘State of the Territory’ address



On Thursday 13 March 2013, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher MLA delivered the ‘State of the Territory’ address. In her address, the Chief Minister outlined the ACT Government’s commitment to supporting local jobs, developing the city centre and transitioning Canberra to a modern, digital city.

If you missed her speech, below are some of the key points raised or you can read the full ‘State of the Territory’ address on our website.

  • The ACT Government’s long-term commitments to economic reform and fairness in our community continues.
  • The ACT Government awaits the handing down of the next federal budget and the government’s Commission of Audit with interest.
  • It’s six months since the federal election and the start of a series of cuts to Commonwealth agencies; two years since the federal spending contraction began in earnest; and six years since the Global Financial Crisis first sent tremors through our economy.
  • Throughout this period, the fundamentals of the ACT economy have remained strong:
    • forecast economic growth for 2013-14 is unchanged from last June (1.75%)
    • retail trade figures are positive (growth of 3.4% in year to January 2014)
    • population growth remains steady, and
    • employment growth in our economy is slow, but steady.
  • Unemployment remains at 3.8% – the lowest in the country. This is helping keep other economic vitals such as housing and retail activity in shape.

Stimulus and job creation

  • Protecting the livelihoods of working Canberrans remains a core priority throughout 2014.
  • The ACT Government has worked hard to earn economic credentials, a strong budget position and a triple A credit rating and these advantages will be used strategically.
  • The ACT Government has created capacity for government to invest in productive infrastructure which attracts private sector buy-in and delivers a long-term dividend to our economy. The $480 million Canberra Airport project is an example of this.
  • The ACT Government have been able to act to pump-prime the construction sector through the stimulus package announced recently. Find out more about the stimulus package.

ACT Budget

  • The ACT Budget – as 9% of our economy – can respond to federal belt‑tightening, but not savage austerity.
  • The ACT’s exposure is easy to see:
    • the Commonwealth’s ACT workforce is three times the size of our own and we cannot absorb large redundancies
    • our GST revenue continues to decline relative to the services it’s supposed to pay for and further cuts to that will hurt
    • direct funding for vital reforms and community services, if cut, would undermine hard-won gains for our schools and some of our most vulnerable citizens.
  • The ACT Government is resolute in delivering on promises made including our commitments under national reforms.
  • The ACT is heading towards a 9% improvement in the efficiency of our tax base by 2016-17 – in other words, a yield of $57 million for the ACT economy which is no longer absorbed by administration and compliance.
  • Sales activity in the commercial sector has increased following the decision to drop commercial conveyance duty to 5.5% for properties valued at $1.65 million or greater – now amongst the lowest rates in the country.
  • The ACT Government’s support for small business through the reduction of payroll tax is also delivering important support, both to individual businesses and to the government’s drive for diversification.

City Plan and Capital Metro

  • The Chief Minister released the final version of the City Plan (previously released in draft form) which shows a step forward in the transformation of our city centre. Find out more about the city plan External Link - opens in new window.
  • The City Plan creates a blueprint for the transformation including: a framework for extensive residential growth in Civic; plans to progress major infrastructure projects; and a permanent bridging of the divide between the city and the lake.
  • The government will be announcing fast tracking some of the next stages of the City to Lake Project. Find out more about the West Basin Waterfront design fast tracking External Link - opens in new window.
  • The Chief Minister will be promoting the project in China next month as part of the Prime Minister’s trade delegation, and the Deputy Chief Minister will be doing the same in Singapore and in Hong Kong in June.
  • One of the defining features of the City Plan is the introduction of light rail as the spine of our future public transport network and catalyst for an economic resurgence along Northbourne Avenue. Capital Metro is not only a transport solution, it’s a city-building project – a major capital investment which delivers against other key priorities.

Related Priorities

  • The City Plan reflects broader elements of the government’s productivity and public health agenda relating to support for active living.

Diversification

  • The ACT Government has a diversification agenda which is lead by the Deputy Chief Minister, and is heavily focused on growing the economy through human capital. This program is yielding results: sustained growth in higher education exports; our IT industry maturing and attracting global attention; and regional tourism continuing to grow.
  • The ACT’s tertiary institutions are at the heart of our growth as a knowledge-based economy.
  • More than 10,000 international students are spending more than $440 million in the ACT economy each year and the education sector now generates 11% of our tourist activity.
  • Looked at in its whole, this sector contributes $2 billion to our economy. No other jurisdiction has an education industry so significant to its makeup, which is why the ACT must continue to assert itself as Australia’s learning capital.
  • The ACT Government is working at a strategic level to identify the future opportunities in this sector and promote it to the world – most notably through the StudyCanberra program.

Digital Canberra

  • The Chief Minister released the Digital Canberra Action Plan. Find out more about the Digital Canberra Action Plan External Link - opens in new window.
  • Backed by a $4.4 million investment, the plan shows the government’s vision to develop and promote Canberra as a modern, dynamic, digital city. It provides the roadmap of how the government is going to accelerate business engagement with the digital economy and help businesses access new customers and markets.
  • Initiatives include:
    • The roll out of free Wi-Fi in Canberra will start in Civic from the second half of this year. Free Wi-Fi will then roll out in other town centres and commercial precincts.
    • Garema Place becoming the centre of digital innovation in Canberra through the creation of a dedicated digital space and digital screen. 
    • Digital Business Capacity Building Workshops which will respond to research the government carried out last year around the digital capabilities and needs of the ACT business community.
    • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics internships which will offer the private sector support in training of their staff.
    • The Innovation Pitch Panel which will create a forum for local innovations aimed directly at the ACT Government.
To find out more about these key points read the full ‘State of the Territory’ address.

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