Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chief Minister’s ‘State of the Territory’ Business Address Speech

TRANSCRIPT:‘State of the Territory’ Business Address delivered by Chief Minister Andrew Barr on 9 May 2019

We gather at a time of uncertainty in the national and international political and economic outlook.

Between the coming federal election, ongoing tensions in the international trade arena, signs that housing markets in some parts of Australia are deflating, and the big structural shifts occurring in key sectors like financial services, energy and retail, there is a lot happening.

Here in the ACT we have been fortunate to experience considerably more political and economic stability.

Strong population growth and ongoing investment is contributing to continued economic growth above our long-run average; our housing market is relatively steady and we continue to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

A little under a month from now, I will hand down the 2019 ACT Budget. This will emphasise that while we are not immune to the risks on the horizon, the ACT’s economic fundamentals are strong and we are well placed to face any challenges that lie ahead.

It’s been one of the more interesting Budgets I’ve prepared in my time as Treasurer, in the shadow of the federal election.

A change of government would significantly benefit the ACT, as Labor has committed their support for major projects such as Stage 2 of light rail to Woden, new hospital infrastructure and upgrades, and better community facilities.

Because Canberra is growing, we need to keep building for the future by investing today.

Having a federal Government that wants to be an active participant in this work would be far preferable to one that consistently talks this community down as ‘the Canberra bubble’.

Beyond the economic frame, we are well advanced on delivering the big agenda we promised Canberrans at the last election.

A few weeks ago, we started services on the first stage of Canberra’s light rail network, linking the CBD to our fastest growing region.

More than 77,000 trips were taken on Light Rail during the first week of operation, adding to the 290,000 journeys taken on the new bus network over the same period.

This shows there is strong appetite in this community for faster, cleaner and better connected public transport that provides a real alternative to the car.

For the sake of clarity, those figures represent journeys taken. The overall number of boardings numbered just over 500,000.

With Stage 1 up and running, we are now turning our focus to Stage 2, which I’ll say a little more about in a moment.

We are on track to buy renewable electricity equivalent to 100 per cent of our electricity needs by 2020.

Nine of the ten supported renewable electricity generators have started delivery to the ACT, with the final generator to start on the first of October.

While the federal government has spent six years studiously avoiding action on climate change, we’ve spent that time getting on with the job of transitioning Canberra to a cleaner future.

Work is well underway on revitalising our town centres, with the ACT Government’s investments in better public spaces, community facilities and connectivity in Woden, Tuggeranong, Belconnen, Gungahlin and the City being matched by major new private sector investment.

Our tourism sector is booming thanks to the arrival of direct international flights and more new investment from overseas and interstate. We are experiencing very strong overnight domestic visitation along with record breaking international visitor nights. Our overnight visitors are also spending record amounts in our destination, putting us firmly on track to meet our target of $2.5 billion by December 2020.

And, of course, we are delivering a record pipeline of major infrastructure investments that generate work for local companies and more good jobs, including the major expansion of the Canberra Hospital through the SPIRE Centre, new and expanded schools, and new roads to better connect our growing regions.

All of these initiatives are about ensuring Canberra keeps getting even better as we grow.

More than 420,000 people now live in the ACT and that figure is projected to grow to exceed 500,000 people by 2030.

Canberra is the hub and service centre for a region of about 800,000 people – including communities throughout southern New South Wales.

Managing that growth effectively means meeting the needs of a bigger community – for services, transport, housing and infrastructure – while protecting the special character of our regions and suburbs that makes Canberra such a great place to live.

More diversity means more room to grow

One of the reasons Canberra has been experiencing such strong population growth in the past few years is the strength of our labour market and the quality of the jobs on offer here.

We have seen significant growth in Canberra’s private sector, more than 60 per cent of working Canberrans are now employed outside of the public service.

In the last four years, more than 3,000 new businesses have started up in the ACT.

With our economy becoming more diverse all the time, there are more opportunities for continued growth in good jobs and business activity than could ever be provided by the narrower base of the public service.

Our service export sectors are the stand out success stories here, in line with the Government’s strategy to grow our engagement with the world and find new markets for the ACT’s products.

On a per capita basis the ACT is now Australia’s leader in services exports. Although we are home to 1.7 per cent of Australia’s population, we account for 2.5 per cent of this country’s service exports.

The international education sector is now worth almost $1 billion annually to the Canberra economy, having grown by more than 100 per cent over the past five years.

Our tourism sector is currently the second fastest growing in Australia (just behind Tasmania) and we are experiencing near record high domestic visitor numbers and record international visitor numbers.

Recently we have seen jobs in the tourism sector growing at an annual rate of 7 per cent, which is triple the rate of jobs growth across the ACT economy as a whole.

We’re not resting on our achievements here.

Having achieved direct flights into Asia and the Middle East, we are now focused on securing direct flights to China and New Zealand, as well as increasing domestic travel routes.

In education, we are working with the University of New South Wales to explore a major new campus for their Canberra operations, which would add another significant Group of 8 facility to the ACT’s already-strong knowledge network.

Our knowledge ecosystem is another of the ACT’s strengths as we look to create more room for economic growth through diversification.

We have clear competitive advantages in sectors like defence, cyber security, ICT, eGovernment, space, agri-tech, health, sport science and renewable energy.

This is evidenced in the success of a number of innovative Canberra businesses such as Reposit Power, Seeing Machines, Liquid Instruments, InstaClustr and IE Asia Pacific.

Late last year, Bruce-based InstaClustr completed a $20.8 million capital raising in the United States after being supported initially by the CBR Innovation Network and through venture capital arrangements underpinned by the ACT Government.

Early this year, Lyneham-based Liquid Instruments completed an $11 million capital raising; and Seeing Machines recently moved into a new office building on Canberra Avenue to accommodate many of its now 300-strong workforce.

The ACT Government will continue backing this kind of innovation because it is a key part of our strategy for securing Canberra’s future economic growth.

That is why I am pleased to announce that next month’s budget will include ongoing funding for the Innovation Network to keep expanding its good work over the next four years.

This important investment comes on top of the funding currently being delivered through the Priority Investment Program – another great initiative aimed at unlocking opportunities for Canberra businesses and encouraging commercialisation.

Better connections to channel growth where it works

Pursuing a more diverse economy that has more room to expand and is more resilient to outside shocks is a big part of our plan to get Canberra’s growth right.

It will also allow us to continue to provide support to those people in our community in need. Last month, we passed a major milestone in the largest public housing renewal program in the ACT’s history, with 1,000 new public houses now complete.

We have also been able to invest a further $100 million to build 200 new public housing dwellings over the next five years and renew an additional 1,000 dwellings.

A strong economy is fundamental to delivering a decent quality of life for all Canberrans. Having a good, secure job, the ability to meet your family’s needs, and being able to plan for the future with confidence are the basics for a good life.

But these are not the only things that matter.

When we talk about economic growth, we must not forget to ask the question: why? To what end do we pursue economic growth?

We must always have an eye to the kind of society we want to create. There is a lot more to living a good life than what is in your bank account or the value of your home.

Quality of life and everything that a quality life entails must also be considered.

Our wellbeing – both as individuals and as a community – is also determined by things like our environment, our connection to place and others, and the quality of our services and our institutions.

We must pursue economic growth with purpose.

That is why we are focused on improving Canberra’s connectivity so that our city keeps moving and remains liveable as we grow.

I want to thank Canberrans for their patience while we have delivered Stage 1 of light rail and the new bus network which provides a faster, 7-day-a-week, citywide public transport system for the first time.

We understand that nobody likes being stuck in traffic during roadworks, and adjusting to a new service when you were used to the old one takes time. But the changes we are delivering through these big investments today will help Canberra avoid the congestion and bottlenecks that are a standard feature of big cities elsewhere.

We can grow and remain liveable, with short commutes and lots of options to get around – but to do so, we have to make these investments now.

That brings me to stage 2 of light rail, which will link the city with the Woden Town Centre.

This is the logical next step to deliver a north-south spine for the future light rail network, and will make a huge difference for congestion on the main southern approaches to the city like Adelaide Avenue as the Woden region continues to grow.

Many of you would be aware that getting light rail from the City to Woden presents a range of challenges that were not present in Stage 1, particularly securing agreement from the National Capital Authority and the Federal Parliament for a route through the Parliamentary Triangle.

This is what it is.

Every major infrastructure project has challenges, and we will work through those with the Australian Government and Parliament because we are determined to deliver this vital transport link.

These discussions may also take on a different tenor if there is a change of Government, given federal Labor has shown their strong support for the project by committing $200 million towards it.

One of the steps we will take to expedite the approvals process is to now focus our efforts on a route via State Circle.

The NCA has been clear with us that the Barton route would struggle to be supported; last year’s Parliamentary inquiry also clearly pointed to the State Circle route as an alternative which aligns with the original National Capital Plan and has the best chance of bi-partisan parliamentary support.

We will shortly lodge a referral for approval of the State Circle route under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and we are optimistic that this change will mean we can get on with delivering Stage 2 of light rail sooner.

While work continues on securing approval from the Commonwealth for the new route, I can announce that next month’s ACT Budget will include funding for work to begin on improving the Woden Bus Interchange and layover facilities to integrate with a new stage two light rail terminus.

We have seen with Light Rail Stage 1 how good integrated public transport infrastructure can enliven and enhance communities.

Stage 2 of light rail to Woden is an important long-term infrastructure project for Canberra, it is the next major transport investment priority for our government, and it is central to our plan to deliver the city-wide light rail network Canberra will need to meet our future growth.

Growing sustainably to protect what’s special to Canberrans

Most Canberrans don’t know this, but even as we’ve been growing, our city still has one of the lowest population densities of any major city in Australia. Continually building outwards may have been ok when the city’s fringes only extended as far as Belconnen and Woden, but we can’t go on like that forever.

Canberrans value the unique bush and rural settings that surround our city, from the Yass Valley countryside to our north, the Namadgi National Park in the south, Tidbinbilla and the Lower Cotter Catchment to our west, and Kowen Forest in the east.

We are also fortunate to have significant nature reserves like the Bullen Range, the Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Mulligans Flat, and the Black Mountain and Mount Majura nature reserves spread throughout the ACT.

If we simply keep growing outwards the way we have in the past, urban sprawl will significantly eat into these unique bush and grasslands environments over the next twenty years.

A commitment to balancing growth with protecting and expanding Canberra’s green spaces underpins our updated ACT Planning Strategy, released late last year.

Under the strategy we will deliver up to 70 per cent of new housing supply through appropriate infill locations around our town centres and transport corridors, with the remaining 30 per cent to be met through new suburban development.

This approach strikes the right balance between meeting Canberrans’ needs as we grow, and protecting what makes our city unique.

In addition to being more environmentally sustainable, sensibly limiting Canberra’s ongoing sprawl outwards is also more fiscally responsible. Greater urban sprawl requires significant investment in new infrastructure and amenities, increasing the costs to Canberrans.

You may not be aware that Kowen Forest/the Kowen Plateau was previously included in the long term residential settlement strategy for the ACT.

However, having considered this in the context of Canberra’s overall growth, we do not believe it makes sense to pursue development there given the importance of the forest as a natural buffer and recreation zone.

Our Government will instead seek to protect and maintain Kowen Forest in its current state, and we have removed the forest from the ACT Government’s future land development planning.

It is a special place that should be preserved for future generations, and we want to protect it from development.

Similarly, we have called for the removal of the “phantom highway”, Monash Drive, from the Territory Plan – because we cannot countenance ever building a four-lane highway between our northern suburbs and Mount Ainslie. To do so would cut off Canberrans from the surrounding bushland that makes our city special – so we will keep fighting the NCA to reverse this absurd proposal.

These are just two examples of the way we will preserve and protect Canberra’s unique bush setting and green spaces while our city continues to grow.


Canberra isn’t like other cities – and we don’t want it to be. We want it to be better.

Better connected, and more sustainable. More liveable, with great local services close to home.

Better planned, and more thoughtfully delivered – by government, business and the community working in partnership to achieve the things we all value.

Canberra’s grow is an opportunity, as long as we get it right.

We’re optimistic that this is possible and we’ve got a clear plan to achieve it. We hope you’ll continue working with us and alongside us to deliver it.

Thank you.


Click here to download

2019 Federal Budget Summary

3 April 2019

2019 Federal Budget Summary

ACT Region-Specific Budget Announcements

  • An additional $50m in priority funding for regional infrastructure in the ACT, consisting of $30m for the Kings Highway corridor, and $20m for the duplication of William Slim Drive, with funding commencing in 2021-22 and the balance paid in 2022-23.
  • The Commonwealth will divest surplus ACT land owned by the Dept. of Finance over two years from 2019-20 – no funding details provided due to commercial-in-confidence.
  • $13.5m to expand intensive care at Canberra Hospital.
  • A net increase of 2,997 full-time equivalent non-military staff in the Australian Public Service, up from 244,306 to 247,302 in 2019-20.
  • Further decentralisation of up to 191 APS staff from Comcare, Indigenous Business Australia, the Australian Financial Security Authority, the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Budget Key Features for Business

  • SME instant asset write-off threshold increased from $25,000 to $30,000 from 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2019, and access expanded to businesses with an annual turnover less than $50m, up from $10m (around 3.4m businesses now eligible).
  • SME company tax rate cuts brought forward, dropping from 27.5% to 25% by 2021-22 – five years earlier than Applies to all businesses with an annual turnover less than $50m.
  • $1b in funding to the ATO to target tax avoidance by multinationals, big business and high wealth individuals.
  • $57.5m in funding through to 2022-23 to assist small businesses with tax disputes.
  • Personal income tax cuts/reforms to assist consumption growth:
    • from 1 July 2019, taxes reduced by up to $1,080 for single earners & $2,160 for dual income families earning up to $126,000
    • in 2022-23, the top tax threshold of 19% bracket will rise from $41,000 to $45,000p.a., and the low income tax offset will increase from $645 to $700
    • in 2024-25, the 32.5% tax rate will fall to 30%
  • $525m over five years to improve skills, including 80,000 new apprenticeships in skills shortage areas, with incentive payments to employers increased to up to $8,000; $132.4m to establish a National Skills Commission and a National Careers Institute; $67.5m to trial 10 national training hubs to boost education in regions with high youth unemployment; and $62.4m to boost numeracy, literacy and digital skills.
  • $206m in funding for the Building Better Regions Fund, boosting investment in regional infrastructure.
  • $60m in funding over three years to the Export Market Development Grant Scheme to assist SME exporters.
  • $50m over three years, combined with State/Territory and industry co-payments, to enhance iconic tourism infrastructure.
  • $15m in additional funding for the Drought Communities Program, to assist drought-affected businesses.

Economic Context for Budget

  • Global economic growth strengthened in 2017 and into 2018 reaching 7%, but has moderated since late 2018, and is forecast to be 3.5% from 2019 through to 2021.
  • In Australia, the forecast 3.0% growth rate in 2018-19 and 2019-20 is not likely to be achieved, with growth now expected to reach 2.25% in 2019-20, increasing to 2.75% through to 2021.
  • The unemployment rate remains on track to decline from 5.4% to 5.0% this year, and remain at that level until 2021.
  • Inflation is forecast to increase from 1.5% this year to 2.25% in 2019-20, then 2.5% by 2020-21.
  • Wage growth will be lower than the previous Budget forecast, increasing slightly from 5% in 2018-19 to 2.75% in 2019-20, then accelerating to 3.25% by 2020-21.
  • Low unemployment and rising wages growth should lead to increased household consumption; coupled with robust non-mining business investment growth, a resurgence in mining investment, a lower dollar and the resilience of Australia’s major trading partners, the economic outlook is generally positive despite housing market risks and international trade uncertainty.
  • Accordingly, the underlying cash balance is expected to increase from a deficit of $4.2b this year back to a surplus of $7.1b in 2019-20 and $11.0b in 2021-22, with the longer term goal being to eliminate Commonwealth net debt by 2030.


Canberra Business Chamber welcomes a Budget that emphasises the fundamental business principles of getting back into the black and investing in growth. With an economy that is largely driven by our small businesses, the 2019-20 Federal Budget provides much-needed assistance in the form of SME-targeted tax measures such as the increased asset write-off, as well as additional funding for exporters, and an increased focus on meeting skills shortages.

At the same time, the Chamber feels that the $58m increase in funding to support small businesses seeking assistance in disputes with the Australian Taxation Office, will be dwarfed by the billion dollar injection to the ATO’s scrutiny of tax avoidance, the burden of which often falls largely upon those least able to bear it: small businesses.

While the Budget provides ACT consumers with some tax relief that in turn should flow on to local businesses, the Territory gets only a tiny slice of the $25 billion in infrastructure spending, with only $50m over two years for road upgrades – important institutions in the Capital, a source of national pride as well as local tourism, miss out on necessary funds. There are also disturbing signs that the Commonwealth will continue its plan to decentralise the Public Service, which, if carried out, will have a significant negative impact on the ACT’s economy.

Canberra Business Chamber will continue to monitor the impacts of these measures, and put forward business concerns to the Federal Government in coming months.

CBC Kindred Organisations:

Master Builders Association

Australian Hotels Association

Chartered Business Accountants

Australian Institute of Company Directors

Time to Question Cyber Security Readiness

17 October 2018

Time to Question Cyber Security Readiness

By Robyn Hendry, Canberra Business Chamber CEO

Despite more than one-third of ACT companies having faced a data privacy or cyber-security attack in the past two years, just over half of our local businesses have a plan in place to respond to an incident.

Canberra Business Chamber has recently conducted what is possibly Australia’s first survey of local business cyber-awareness.

It found that while firms have directly experienced cyber threats, many are ill-equipped to take practical steps to minimise risks and protect their own and customer information.

Between 70 per cent and 77 per cent of respondents have taken basic cyber-protection steps, including loading the latest software updates, backing up business data at least weekly, and ensuring password access to company devices.

Even more have firewalls on their computer systems, change the default factory passwords on devices, and control access to business devices and data.

“This basic level of awareness is very positive”, says Lyndal Thorburn, Chair of the Chamber’s Innovation Taskforce. “This, and the high response rate to our survey in a relatively short time, shows that cyber-security is on the minds of local businesses. This is a good sign that cyber-hygiene is uppermost in locals’ minds at the moment.”

Room for improvement

However, the survey also revealed that while local businesses are getting the basics right, there is room for improvement when it comes to taking more proactive steps in cyber protection. For example, only 45 per cent of respondents had a secure website and had changed the default passwords on their business routers.

Other risks identified included how companies control if, or how, staff can download software and apps onto their business-owned devices and access Wi-Fi while travelling.

The survey also showed that local businesses are very interested in enhancing their skills in this area and are willing to seek advice from service providers. Three-quarters of respondents are already using third-party suppliers for backup, organisation-specific software and client data.

Over the next 12 months, the Chamber will be developing a set of ‘FAQs’ companies can use to improve their basic cyber-hygiene and a list of trusted third-party suppliers businesses can look to for expert advice on reducing cyber risks.

These steps will help local businesses meet the requirements of larger customers, including government and defence, when supplying them with services.

The Chamber plans to run the survey annually to collect timeline data. This year’s survey is still live and can be accessed here.

The changing face of employment in Canberra

By Robyn Hendry  13 September 2018

In recent weeks our city, and nation, have been focused on the changing fortunes of those governing Australia. While the drama has been both disturbing and fascinating to watch unfold, there is a more profound shift taking place in employment in Canberra that it is time to pay attention to.

For much of its history, Canberra has been viewed as a ‘government’ town, with our workforce and local economy very much dictated by highs and lows in public sector employment.

In the past, the uncertainty created by something like a Prime Ministerial leadership spill or calling of a Federal election would significantly impact on local business confidence.

However, hard work to diversify our economy has created a new reality in which the ACT’s fortunes are no longer so tightly tied to the fluctuations of the Commonwealth workforce.

Unemployment in the ACT is currently the lowest in the country, standing at 3.6 per cent according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force figures.

When we consider that the Territory also has one of Australia’s highest population growth rates, it must be concluded that jobs are being created.

What may surprise many is where they are being created.

Of the 225,700 people employed in the ACT, 144,000 or 63.8 per cent are employed by the private sector. As of the May quarter 2018, only 81,700 or 36.2 per cent of Canberrans reported as a public sector employee. (Source: ABS Labour Force Australia).

For many years, when arguing against the stereotype of Canberra being a public service city, the ACT has proudly pointed out that more than half of the local workforce was employed by private businesses.

However, these latest figures show we have moved far from that position.

So, whatever happens on the Hill, the important change in employment to keep track of is not simply who is in power, but how Canberra businesses are forging a new destiny for our city and protecting us against seismic shifts in the political landscape.

Robyn Hendry is the Chief Executive Officer of Canberra Business Chamber.

Read Full RIOT ACT article here

‘Welcome to Country’ in the ACT


Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country


1.What is a Welcome to Country?

Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Despite the absence of fences or visible borders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups had clear boundaries separating their Country from that of other groups. Crossing into another group’s Country required a request for permission to enter. When permission was granted the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and protection of their spiritual being during the journey. While visitors were provided with a safe passage, they also had to respect the protocols and rules of the land owner group while on their Country.

Today, obviously much has changed, and these protocols have been adapted to contemporary circumstances. However, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place. A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English. A Welcome to Country is delivered by Traditional Owners, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners, to welcome visitors to their Country.

2. What is an Acknowledgment of Country?

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country, though often a statement may take the following forms.

General: I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Specific: I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today, the (people) of the (nation) and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Similar to a Welcome to Country, an Acknowledgement of Country is generally offered at the beginning of a meeting, speech or formal occasion.

3. Why are Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Country important?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced a long history of exclusion from Australian history books, the Australian flag, the Australian anthem and for many years, Australian democracy. This history of dispossession and colonisation lies at the heart of the disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians today. Including recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in events, meetings and national symbols is one part of ending the exclusion that has been so damaging. Incorporating welcoming and acknowledgement protocols into official meetings and events recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of land. It promotes an ongoing connection to place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and shows respect for Traditional Owners.

In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, the meaning of Country is more than just ownership or connection to land, as Professor Mick Dodson explains:

“When we talk about traditional ‘Country’…we mean something beyond the dictionary definition of the word. For Aboriginal Australians…we might mean homeland, or tribal or clan area and we might mean more than just a place on the map. For us, Country is a word for all the values, places, resources, stories and cultural obligations associated with that area and its features. It describes the entirety of our ancestral domains. While they may all no longer necessarily be the title-holders to land, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are still connected to the Country of their ancestors and most consider themselves the custodians or caretakers of their land.”

4. The Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding region

Canberra is Ngunnawal country. The Ngunnawal people are the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding region.

The neighbouring people are the Gundungurra to the north, the Ngarigo to the south, the Yuin on the coast, and the Wiradjuri inland. 

5. Welcome to Country Protocols

Businesses in the ACT may wish to adopt the policy that all meetings, conferences, commemorations and events include an acknowledgement of the traditional custodians. Further, depending on the availability of an Aboriginal community elder, and the significance of the event, a formal Welcome to Country could be offered.

By incorporating Aboriginal cultural practices/ceremonies into our everyday business we are able to:

  • recognise and pay respect to Aboriginal peoples, cultures and heritage;
  • communicate Aboriginal cultural practices to the broader community to promote respect and understanding;
  • demonstrate that Aboriginal cultures are living through maintenance and practice of ceremonies and protocols; and
  • demonstrate recognition of Aboriginal people’s unique position which can assist in building relationships and partnerships.

Arranging a formal Welcome to Country in the ACT

To arrange a Welcome to Country for your event you could speak to the following Ngunnawal Elders to seek their assistance. A  list of Ngunnawal Elders can be found at:

This directorate’s involvement in Welcome to Country requests is only to provide you with contact details for the Ngunnawal Elders and /or alternates family representation that have been endorsed through the United Ngunnawal Elders Council. You will need to liaise directly with them for all your arrangements.

If you cannot arrange for a Ngunnawal Elder to attend your event, or if your event is considered too small to warrant a formal Welcome to Country, you can make the following specific acknowledgement in the ACT:

‘I/We would like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people who are the traditional custodians of this land on which we are meeting and pay respect to the Elders of the Ngunnawal Nation both past and present. I/We extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in attendance today.’

Fee for Service in providing Cultural Services

In providing cultural services such as Welcome to Country, artistic performances and ceremonies Aboriginal people are using their intellectual property. As such providers of these services should be appropriately remunerated.

Appropriate remuneration and/or assistance should be negotiated between the cultural service provider and the agency hosting the event, considering:

  • travel to and from the event; and
  • public profile of the event.

As a general indicator, $350 for a Welcome to Country is appropriate.

6. Cultural Awareness Training

Further information will be posted when available.

Cybersecurity: Only as safe as our weakest link

Around the globe, countries and corporations are focused on cybersecurity. Canberra is home to some of the most innovative, advanced and successful cybersecurity firms in the world.

Yet the issue with cybersecurity is that any organisation, no matter how much they have invested in protection, is only as safe as its weakest link.

While the privacy debate raged on electronic healthcare records over the past few months, a number of commentators pointed out that breaches of patient information are most likely to happen at an individual level – such as the hack or robbery of a general practice’s files.

Indeed, most recent highly publicised examples of data loss were caused by hackers gaining access to sensitive information through electronic connections between small companies supplying goods and services to those that held the data repositories.

Collaboration and cooperation have been a cornerstone of doing business in Australia forever, and it needs to continue safely. When it comes to business it is a universal truth that ‘no man is an island’. At the very least, businesses will have customers with whom they communicate and connect.

Enhancing the “cyber-hygiene” of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – that ability to safely connect with customers and suppliers – is the current focus of the Canberra Business Chamber’s Innovation Taskforce. Chaired by Dr Lyndal Thorburn, the Taskforce is reviewing public checklists suitable for use by Canberra’s SMEs to check how they perform against accepted standards.

“The Taskforce is reviewing existing materials and assessing its applicability to use by our local businesses,” Dr Thorburn explained. “The aim is to develop a page on the Chamber’s website where companies can go to locate these resources, and also to identify local trusted providers of cyber goods and services. We would welcome approaches by local companies interested in being listed.”

One such provider is Canberra-based Cogito Group. Cogito Group is a world-leader when it comes to cybersecurity and when launching a new product earlier this year, Managing Director Richard Brown highlighted the need to look beyond the potential big targets of cybercriminals.

“Our goal is to create products that are affordable and effective for businesses of all sizes and types. We have designed Jellyfish to bring together disparate security capability in the enterprise, but to also allow such capability to finally be realised in much smaller organisations that until now, could not afford them.

“If we are going to keep information safe, particularly sensitive data that can impact on national security or the financial wellbeing of an organisation, then every player in the supply chain – from the cleaning company, to the small contractor, to the organisation itself – has a role to play.”

A key recommendation of Cisco’s 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report is for companies to review third-party efficacy testing of security technologies to help reduce the risk of supply chain attacks.

With cost perhaps one of the greatest barriers to small businesses fortifying their cyber defences, in its ACT Budget Submission this year, Canberra Business Chamber called on the Government to incentivise investment in cybersecurity.

With so much valuable and personal information now stored and shared electronically, just one gap in security can have disastrous consequences. Cybersecurity is everyone’s problem and it requires everyone to treat it seriously.

Full article here:

Trade Mission to Singapore 4-7 July 2018

Budget Summary – 2018 Federal Budget


Budget Forecast

  • Global growth has strengthened, rising to its fastest pace in six years. World GDP is forecast to grow at around 3.8% each year through to 2020.
  • In Australia, the transition from the mining boom is nearly complete, and growth will be driven by consumption and non-mining investment. Real GDP will grow from 2.75% in 2017-18 to 3.0% in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • The unemployment rate is forecast to fall to 5.5% in 2017-18, then down to 5.25% in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • The inflation rate is expected to rise from 2% to 2.25% in 2018-19, to 2.5% in 2019-20.
  • Wage growth is forecast to pick up pace, rising from 2.25% in 2017-18 to 2.75% in 2018-19, reaching 3.25% in 2019-20.
  • Expected taxation revenue has been revised upwards by a further $12b over four years due to a stronger economy. Total taxation revenue is forecast to rise from $445.1b in 2017-18 to $554b in 2021-22.
  • The underlying cash deficit is expected to improve from -$18.2b (1.0% of GDP) to -$14.5b in 2018-19, before returning to a surplus of $2.2b (0.1% of GDP) in 2020-21.

Budget Key Features for Business

  • The small business instant asset write-off for amounts up to $20,000 has been extended for another year, to 30 June 2019, with small business defined as any business with an annual turnover of less than $10m.
  • The reduced small business tax rate of 27.5% introduced in 2016-17 has been extended to companies with an annual turnover of less than $50m from 1 July 2018.
  • A reduction in personal income tax rates over the next six years: a new tax offset giving up to $530 to low and middle-income earners; an increase in the 19% tax bracket to $41,000, and the 32.5% tax bracket to $120,000 to combat bracket creep; and the abolition of the highest (37%) tax bracket by 2024.
  • An increase in health funding: $4.8b for Medicare; $30b for public hospitals; $2.4b for new medicines; and $5b for aged care.
  • New funding of $24.5b as part of the $75b investment in transport infrastructure.
  • $1.5b in new funding for the Skilling Australians fund to assist businesses in getting skilled workers, including encouraging older workers to participate in the workforce.
  • $1.9b in additional funding to help grow research and scientific capabilities.
  • $224m in new funding for agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
  • A $10,000 limit applicable to all cash transactions as part of measures against the black economy.
  • $600,00 increased funding for Tourism Australia.

ACT Region-Specific Budget Announcements

  • $100m to upgrade the Barton Highway.
  • $100m to upgrade the Monaro Highway.
  • $16.6m over three years to contribute towards capital maintenance of the National Gallery of Australia.
  • $48.7m over four years to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage to Australia.
  • $13.1m over four years for the Australian War Memorial to enhance its digitisation program and support core activities, as well as funding for development of a detailed business case for a gallery master plan.
  • A net increase of 912 full-time equivalent non-military APS staff.
  • Annual increases in paid parking on national land, with the revenue to be reinvested in capital works by the National Capital Authority.
  • Decentralisation of four ACT-based Federal entities to other locations: The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations; Unique Student Identifier Registrar; Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities Inland Rail Unit; and Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities Indian Ocean Territories. The Budget commits to further decentralisation in coming months.


The 2018-19 Federal Budget provides a range of benefits for the Canberra Region, including new funding for road infrastructure, investment in Commonwealth agencies, as well as modest investment in our national institutions.

The budget’s focus on tax cuts will assist consumption driven growth. The Chamber also welcomes the extension of the 10 Year Enterprise Tax Plan to a greater number of small businesses.

Additionally, there are a number of initiatives within the budget where Canberra businesses and institutions will have significant capability and competitive advantage. These include investment in information technology, space, medical science, defence industries, tourism marketing and export growth. The Canberra Business Chamber seeks to support businesses in accessing these opportunities.

Despite the welcome net increase in public service staff we have concerns about the announcement of the decentralisation of four Commonwealth entities and the warning of further agency movements.

Overall the budget supports ACT industry growth through regional infrastructure, workforce development, tax concessions and investment in high value sectors.  Unfortunately, the Government’s continued push toward decentralisation creates uncertainty in the ACT economy.

Further Budget Analysis:

International Flights too Good to Lose



Use it or lose it – it’s good advice for our physical health as we get older, but could just as easily apply to the contract between customers and service providers.

If we don’t frequent our local store, restaurant or service station it’s difficult to complain if they have reduced their opening hours or gone out of business the one time we desperately need to buy milk and bread, fill up the car or grab a meal.

Businesses make operational decisions based on commercial realities. For example, they will choose not to be open at 2 am if they know only one customer wants to come in at that time or to offer home delivery if it means employing someone full time for what amounts to only one hour of work to make a handful of drop-offs.

Therefore, as service offerings grow in step with our city’s expansion, we must decide as a community what their value is to us and whether we want to support them in order to keep them.

An example is the introduction of international flights to Canberra. From May, the ACT will have 14 international flights a week with Singapore and Qatar Airways now both flying daily from Canberra.

Direct international connections create significant opportunities for our region – ranging from convenience and time savings for local travellers, through to increased potential for business networking and exporting, and bringing more international visitors to our city. Naturally, this also opens up more accessible holiday international destinations for CBR Region residents.

Economically the second two will contribute to our local region in ways that will trickle down through our community as a whole, such as increased employment and emergence of new businesses.

The positive impact on international tourism of bringing the world closer to Canberra through direct flights cannot be underestimated.

Last year, the ACT had record numbers of international visitors and expenditure. Numbers of international tourists coming to Canberra increased nearly 17 per cent.

Now we have been named the third best city in the world to visit by Lonely Planet, Canberra will be on even more tourists’ wish lists.

The easier it is to come to the ACT and the more widely in turn its charms are promoted, the higher these numbers will rise.

Direct flights in both directions have to be well-utilised to enable airlines to make the commercial decision to include Canberra on their destination list.

Therefore, our region’s travellers – both business and holiday – need to rally behind direct flights and use them whenever feasible.

When it comes to connecting Canberra to the rest of the world, our community has the power to help ensure losing it is not an option.

Talking Business with Robyn Hendry


Tim Shaw is joined by Canberra Business Chamber CEO Robyn Hendry to discuss business confidence, the growth of the ACT, and the idea of a Google Hub in Canberra.

Click here to listen to the podcast .

Fair Work Commission rejects Union claim to set own Family Friendly Working Hours

Fair Work Commission rejects Union claim to set own Family Friendly Working Hours

  • Under the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) proposal, employees would have had the right to unilaterally set their own working days and hours to suit their parenting / caring situations. Under this arrangement Employers would not be able to refuse an employee’s proposal. This proposal would ultimately leave employers with little to no discretion as to whether these working arrangements suited the business.
  • The Fair Work Commission rejected this claim, on the basis that it may have substantial negative consequences for business.
  • However, in its decision the Commission sought to strike a balance between Employers’ rights and the Unions’ requests by allowing employers’ the discretion to implement such arrangements – but also giving employees more transparency as to why such a decision was reached.
  • The Fair Work Act 2009, currently allows for employees to request flexible working arrangements to accommodate personal circumstances (generally caring duties), which Employers can refuse on “reasonable business grounds”.
  • The Commission has recommended that (on a provisional basis and subject to further submissions) a model clause will be incorporated into all awards which will supplement the existing National Employment Standards provision dealing with such requests.
  • The proposed change will place further responsibilities on Employers with respect to consultation obligation and transparency when managing an employee’s request for flexible work arrangements.

5 Days Unpaid Domestic Violence Leave approved in all Modern Awards


5 Days Unpaid Domestic Violence Leave approved in all Modern Awards

  • On 27 March 2018, the Fair Work Commission ruled that Australian employees should have access to five (5) days unpaid leave to deal with domestic violence matters.
  • Family or domestic violence leave will be available in the event where an employee needs to take leave to deal with circumstances of family or domestic violence and it is impractical to do outside of working hours.
  • Unpaid domestic violence leave will be extended to all employees covered by a modern award, including part-time and casual employees.
  • The leave will not be pro-rated for employees working less than 38 hours per week and the 5 days will refresh at the beginning of each year rather than accruing during a year of service. The leave will not accumulate from year to year.
  • A model clause is being drafted by the Fair Work Commission and it will be some weeks before this will be finalised. We will update you with further information shortly!