#CBR2020 - Achieving our ambition

06 April 2017

Today I made my annual State of the Territory address to the Canberra Business Chamber, where I outlined my vision for Canberra by 2020 and new business opportunities for our city stemming from direct international flights.

Below is my speech in full. 

From ambition to reality

A year ago I announced A Statement of Ambition: a positive and progressive agenda for Canberra’s future.

Today I outline the first steps we are taking to achieve this vision.  

The delivery of our 2016 election platform across:

  • economic development;
  • health services;
  • education and training;
  • transport infrastructure; and
  • urban design.

A plan to make the Canberra of 2020 an even better place to live.

Canberra in 2020 will be a city of over 420,000 people.

It will be a city of stronger connections – between citizens, businesses, and government.

The Statement of Ambition sets out a plan for our city to take control of its future.

A 21st century city playing to its strengths and connected to the world.

“A city like no other.”

Our key advantage is that Canberra is a liveable city.

This is perhaps more important now – in the age of an internationally-mobile, highly-skilled workforce – than ever before.

It’s something that we will use to attract the best people.

Jobs follow smart, creative people to the places they want to be.

Our liveability, connectivity and attractiveness to educated, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial people are key advantages.

That advantage helps to diversify our economy.

Canberra is becoming a true knowledge capital, not just the home of public administration. We will continue to open up our economy to drive job creation in emerging industries.

Building transport infrastructure now gives us further productivity and lifestyle advantages.

How people quickly and conveniently move around our city over the next 20 years will be due to the decisions we’re taking, and the infrastructure we’re building, right now.

We will continue to embrace digital innovation. Digital is at the forefront of many government reforms and Canberra is home to many thriving start-ups, being run by young, engaged and educated people.

Cities don’t succeed by accident or by leaving things to chance – they require design, good governance and great collaboration.

The Statement of ambition is guiding our support of new, growing and established businesses on a practical level.

Over the past year, we’ve made real progress, including:

  • increasing the ACT’s service exports by 13.1 per cent and Gross State Product by 3.4 per cent in the last financial year;
  • boosting our annual international visitor numbers by 6.5 per cent;
  • continuing to create new training and job opportunities by encouraging the growth of our education and research institutions;
  • transitioning our city’s finances through a long-term tax reform agenda;
  • delivering better metropolitan infrastructure through light rail, the University of Canberra Public Hospital and the creation of the new City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency; and
  • working closely with Adelaide and Wellington on smart city initiatives.

And, of course, our first international flights have taken off.

Canberra is now open to the world.  The opportunities that these flights bring us – particularly in the Asia-Pacific region – are significant.

Building on progress – #CBR2020

The Government set out a bold and positive agenda in 2016.   It  resonated with our community: from the largest  businesses operating out of our newest commercial premises right through to ones set up in the spare room; and for residents from Banks to Bonner.

We must recognise that we shape change, or change shapes us. Standing still is not an option for Canberra.

From tax reform to city-shaping infrastructure, we need to keep investing to ensure we are even more productive, more creative and more efficient.

For a city of our size, agility and openness to new ideas are key.  We have to lead.  We have to be smarter and quicker.

You only need to look at how we have led on tax reform, on renewable energy and on regulatory reform to see what benefits that offers our citizens, and how it builds our reputation.

Tax reform may not be the sexiest topic, but the reforms we have implemented over the last five years have significantly shaped our economic growth.  

A fairer tax system that is less reliant on transaction taxes is supporting job growth and diversifying our economy.

Tax reform is a 20-year journey.  It is critical that we stay the course. We will continue these nation leading reforms throughout this parliamentary term.

Long term plans are essential, particularly in an ever-shortening political cycle.

The Statement of ambition looked to the horizon – to what our city will be like in 15 or 20 years time.

However, it’s important to deliver long-term visions through shorter-term plans.

Since I became Chief Minister, I’ve championed a progressive and inclusive city.

What we presented last year was a policy agenda to make this happen. And Canberrans voted to make that vision to become reality.

In our first 100 days of government we achieved a major milestone by starting work on stage two of light rail to Woden, through the Parliamentary Triangle.

We have also demonstrated our commitment to a more inclusive city by launching the Office for Disability to help with the full transition to the NDIS, and delivering further reforms as part of our nation-leading family violence response package.

We are getting on with the job of delivering the projects and initiatives that Canberrans suypported to make our city even better.

A revitalised and growing city

A city growing by more than 5,000 people a year needs new  infrastructure to support this growth – from public transport, through to health and education, to the built form we live and work in.

That is why we are working to ensure Canberra has a modern, integrated public transport system and improved cycling and walking infrastructure across the city.

I want Canberra to be a shining example of contemporary urban renewal.

I am strongly encouraging architects, designers and developers to aim to win awards with their projects. Canberra, particularly our main avenues, should contain buildings that people are talking about well after we’re gone.

A confident, growing city also needs a vibrant CBD.

That’s why we’re creating the new City Renewal Authority, which will take the same precinct-based approach that has been so successful in other cities.

I introduced legislation creating the Authority last week and it will be operational from July.

By 2020, the Authority’s influence on our inner city will be shown through improved public areas, world-class designs and a greater interaction between people and buildings.

My objective is to foster greater social, community and economic activity in our city centre.

A healthy CBR

Canberrans want and deserve a healthcare system that provides them with care when and where they need it.

Our 10-year health plan will deliver with major new infrastructure and new services across the city.

During this parliamentary term, new walk-in centres in Gungahlin, Weston Creek and the Inner North will add to the successful Belconnen and Tuggeranong centres, while major upgrades at The Canberra Hospital and Centenary Hospital for Women and Children will be underway.

By 2020, our city’s health and higher education systems will be even more closely connected, through the opening of the UC Public Hospital and the creation of a new Clinical School to boost health research at the University of Canberra.

Both of these will create highly-skilled jobs, attract the best to Canberra and harness our world-leading research abilities.

These hands-on training and learning centres will attract, educate and retain a high-quality workforce, which is the bedrock of great patient care.

We will further enhance the vibrant and innovative health research cluster that exists in Canberra. Both UC and the ANU have invested significantly in health-related research, including collaborating on cancer research. The ACT Government will continue to support this important work over the next four years.

Education is the Territory’s top export and by 2020 I want Canberra to have further developed our strengths as a centre for high quality education, innovative tertiary institutions, world-class research collaboration and a great student experience.

Standing on our own two feet

When I look to Canberra in 2020, I also see a city that is standing on its own two feet. I have long championed an independent and diverse city, and I’m pleased we are moving beyond the days when Canberra was a one company town.

Having a strong and diverse economy enables us to provide essential services, while sensibly using our balance sheet to deliver the infrastructure projects the city needs.

Throughout years of Federal Government cuts, we have used our Budget to support Canberrans and keep our economy growing.

In the last year, jobs growth in Canberra was more than twice the national rate.  Our economy is growing at its strongest levels since 2011 and we are strengthening our financial position.

We are focussed on policies that will deliver the further growth we need to create more good jobs and boost wages for Canberrans.

We have many advantages, and now is the time to use them.

For example, Canberra has the potential – and the ambition – to be a world-leader in defence technology, cyber security, and space technologies.

Last month, I announced a high-level Defence Industry Advisory Board to ensure our defence activities are targeted to areas that will result in the maximum benefit to Canberra’s economy.

Connecting CBR to the world

Canberra in 2020 will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. Our city will lead Australia and be one of the first in the world to reach this target.

Our expertise and reputation in renewable energy will continue to grow as we close in on our target, and the Government will continue to strongly support innovation and job creation in this sector.

We can export this knowledge to the world and we can now do it more easily through our international flights.

It was not a simple path to get these flights up and running – it’s taken years of hard work. But I think anyone who has stepped aboard Singapore Airlines flight to Wellington or Singapore, for business or pleasure, will agree: it has definitely been worth it.

We will continue to work with Canberra Airport to attract more airlines to Canberra and, with it, more opportunities for business, tourism and trade.

Higher Education and Research

We will work closely with our universities and research centres to translate their ideas and work into industry value to strengthen Canberra as a world leader in areas of unique capability.

The ACT Government will continue to partner with research entities like ANU and CSIRO to scope and develop opportunies for investment attraction and commercialisation, and help local business articulate a global ambition in plant and agricultural sciences.

There are only a few such hubs around the world and a growing need in the Asia-Pacific region means the time is ripe to engage in this sector.

Across Australia and much of the world, demand for health and wellness services is increasing and the opportunity for innovation in delivery of these services is clear.

Canberra already has some obvious success stories in this field. We aim to build on these successes through ongoing collaboration.

The campus expansion at UC, our sporting codes, The Canberra Hospital and ANU, as well as a broad field of biomedical and health businesses and other research centres, deliver a comparative advantage for our city.

But our businesses must be ready to quickly take advantage of any further opportunities. It is with this in mind that today I am pleased to announce further ACT Government support to Canberra businesses to build capacity, expand and increase their international trade opportunities.

Through a program to be run by the Canberra Business Chamber, businesses will be supported through a range of training workshops that will show business leaders how to make the most of international trade.

This is just one of the practical pathways that we’re laying down between where we stand today and the big vision set out in the Statement of ambition.

Conclusion: The progressive, positive city

I have always believed Canberra’s reputation as a sleepy country town did not do justice to the potential and the promise of this place.

We are a positive, progressive city that is making things happen, and I’m pleased that more and more people are recognising just what’s on offer in our cool little capital.

Last year’s election conclusively resolved a series of policy debates that have dominated Territory politics this decade.  Canberra businesses can now plan for the future with greater certainty.  

The election confirmed, once and for all, that Canberrans share the Government’s vision to make our city smarter, more engaging, more inclusive and more open.

What I’ve outlined today are ambitious goals that will be delivered in a relatively short timeframe.

I believe they are very much within our reach. I know this because I’ve already seen how far we’ve come in the past few years.

I also understand Canberrans are looking for assurance that, in delivering this big and ambitious agenda, we will not take our focus off the things that matter day-to-day: world class healthcare, excellent schools, infrastructure and services that meets the community’s needs and expectations.

While we aim high to make this city the best it can be, we will not lose sight of the fundamentals Canberrans need and expect.

I am focused on delivering today and building for tomorrow.    

And by 2020, the Canberra we love will be even better, in so many ways.

I look forward to working with all of you on the many exciting projects and initiatives that will get us there.

Thank you.