The Canberra Business Chamber commends the ACT Government for providing strategic funding in this year’s Budget to stimulate economic activity in the region. It is important the ACT continues to diversify its economy. The $11.75 million for a new business development strategy, Confident and Business Ready, is designed to drive investment, create jobs and encourage innovation. It will build on previous business development strategies.
The Business Chamber supports the fact that investment in the innovation sector will be through the CBR Innovation Network. The ACT has already demonstrated it is a hotbed of innovation and this move should see even more cutting-edge, local businesses emerge and grow.
We recognise the significant contribution of the higher education and research sectors to the ACT region economy and the need to increase capacity and further develop Canberra as a centre of excellence in these areas.
We are pleased to see additional resources for tourism and events and look forward to working with the Government in the ongoing development of Brand Canberra.
The Business Chamber is also supportive of the stated intention to advocate for local business in government procurement processes and to increase the payroll tax threshold to $2 million in 2016-17.
We do however; encourage the ACT Government to continue to invest in providing support and services to the broader business community outside the innovation sector, particularly SMEs. The vast majority of business in the Canberra region that make up the engine room of the economy sit outside the innovation sector and for these business to survive and thrive the Government needs to take an active role, in partnership with the Chamber, to build capacity in trade, skills and business advice.
The Chamber strongly supports a regional approach to economic development, working in partnership with regional local governments and the NSW Government.
The Business Chamber is concerned about the forecast size of the budget deficit. However, in the context of the contraction in Federal Government expenditure and employment downsizing, the Chamber believes the ACT Government’s expansionary approach is reasonable in the present circumstances. Key capital investment projects such as the City to Lake, planning for light rail, refurbishment of the National Convention Centre, development of the Australia Forum convention centre, and expansion of hospital and sporting facilities will stimulate the ACT economy, create employment and lay the foundation for future economic and social development
Having said that, it will be increasingly important that forecasts are not overly optimistic and there is a clear and robust plan to bring the budget back into surplus. Investment in productive infrastructure and asset recycling in this period of historic low interest rates is prudent, but without a clear plan to address the budget deficit business confidence will diminish and the task of addressing the budget shortfall will become increasingly difficult – providing a very poor outlook for the future.
The Business Chamber will continue to advocate for reform of private sector workers’ compensation. Significant improvements can be made to the scheme and the Chamber calls on the Government to remove inefficiencies that impact on the rehabilitation and return to work of injured employees.
Business indicators point to an improvement in business confidence in the Canberra region, following early signs that the Federal Government reforms are nearing completion. While still below the national average, indicators are moving in the
right direction and we are cautiously optimistic they will continue to do so.
Business Breakfast with the Hon Tony Abbott MP
DATE: Monday 22 June 2015
VENUE: Gandel Hall, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes
ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards Launch
DATE: Thursday 18 June 2015
TIME: 10am – 11 am
VENUE: Departures, Upper Level, Canberra
Robyn Hendry, CEO
Canberra Business Chamber