26 August 2020

ACT Government boosts jobs target to 250,000 in economic recovery plan

| Ian Bushnell
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Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the government will invest in growing emerging industries and support innovation, but infrastructure projects will also create hundreds of jobs. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The ACT Government plans to create a further 17,000 jobs by 2025 as part of its program to revive the ACT economy after the ravages of the restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

It has set a target of lifting the ACT’s total level of employment to more than 250,000 jobs, from the current figure of 233,400.

The ACT has lost about 5000 jobs during the pandemic – mainly in travel, hospitality and retail – with employment having reached 238,300 before restrictions hit.

The Jobs and Economic Recovery Plan will be released tomorrow (27 August) as part of the ACT budget update, but it will also serve as a re-election manifesto as the ACT goes to the polls in October.

The government is also expected to announce major spending on infrastructure projects.

It will outline areas for job growth and how the government can help create and protect local jobs through targeted infrastructure investment, tax reform, and planning and regulatory system improvements.

The plan will further boost the number of positions in the ACT public service.

Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr said target industries included healthcare; education, training and early childhood education; renewable energy; tourism and hospitality; arts and creative industries; community services; defence, space and cyber; advanced technology and manufacturing; construction and housing; and retail.

But the government will face ongoing challenges in retail as major stores continue to close across Australia, including chains such as Rivers, Katies, Noni B and Millers, all owned by the Mosaic Group, and all represented in Canberra.

Tourism, travel and hospitality are other areas that continue to be impacted, with travel restrictions and border closures grounding most of the aviation industry, and cafes, restaurants and bars operating at reduced levels.

Qantas’s plans to outsource 2500 employees’ jobs will affect about 40 of its workers at Canberra Airport, which is taking only a handful of flights a day and is threatening to shut down altogether if border closures aren’t lifted and aviation can’t be allowed to operate at at least 25 per cent capacity.

READ ALSO Airport to close on Saturdays, operating at 3 per cent capacity

Mr Barr said the government would invest in growing emerging industries and support innovation by creating and shaping future markets.

”This investment will include targeted skills development and partnering with our world-leading tertiary sector to train the workforce of the future,” he said.

”Maintaining confidence in non-government sectors will be critical to Canberra’s future, and the government will continue to play a role in protecting and creating jobs across both the private sector and the not-for-profit sector.”

Mr Barr said the government had stepped in to ensure jobs in our community sector are not lost through the end of the Commonwealth’s supplementary funding for employees under the historic Equal Remuneration Order (ERO).

He said the ACT Government had already announced significant investments and partnerships that will create local jobs over the coming years.

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These include the expansion of Canberra Hospital, the new CIT Woden and Woden Transport interchange project, new campuses for UNSW Canberra in Reid and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Watson, active travel projects, road upgrades, as well as new and expanded schools across Canberra.

”The pandemic isn’t over, and the economic impacts will be felt for generations. However, in these uncertain times, the ACT Government is delivering the right plan to support Canberra’s economic recovery and protect local jobs,” Mr Barr said.

But the Opposition says the government’s goal lacks ambition and accuses it of grandstanding, although it did not say how it would create more jobs.

“After an extraordinarily difficult year of bushfires, hail and pandemic, Canberrans can’t afford more of the same,” Liberal Leader Alistair Coe said. ”We can’t afford four more years of a tired old government that fails to get the basics right and only knows how to increase taxes.

“If this Government were serious about red tape and supporting jobs, they wouldn’t have imposed the red tape in the first place.”

Mr Coe said the Opposition would turbocharge the economy through the recovery to create more jobs and investment so everyone can get ahead.

The Labor Government will be endeavouring to be returned for a sixth consecutive term when the ACT goes to the polls on 17 October.

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phillipbusinesscommunity11:47 am 27 Aug 20

The Small Business Community has repeatedly communicated with the ACT Government that Small Business Grants to help them recover from the lockdowns and fear in the market would easily add thousands of jobs back to the community.

Sadly it appears the ACT Government (current) is only capable of considering top-down “we’ll tell you what’s good for you” approach that does nothing to help get the small businesses (previously called the backbone of the economy by many leaders) back onto their feet and employing people.

Incentivise Commercial building owners to upgrade their buildings (using local contractors and manufacturers) and do it ASAP. Offer Small Business Grants – same as those in QLD, NSW & VIC to businesses that were forced to shut to help them regain their livelihoods, and please stop telling us what you think we want and start asking us.

I’ve managed to keep my 18 staff (3 part-time and the rest casual) but I’ve taken a personal hit. NONE of the members of this Government have been personally impacted and their policies stink of it.

HiddenDragon7:17 pm 26 Aug 20

“Mr Barr said the government would invest in growing emerging industries and support innovation by creating and shaping future markets.”

Creating and shaping future markets sounds exceedingly optimistic for a little town which has some great intellectual capital, but so far has had successes mainly of the niche variety, while the real action – the big employment and wealth dividends – happens elsewhere.

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