I rise to make a statement on the annual report of the Department of
Innovation, Industry and Regional Development for 2006-07. During the reporting
period the department was involved in a number of key initiatives. One of the
ongoing initiatives was the Australian synchrotron. Another involved Invest
Victoria and Tourism Victoria successfully negotiating and lobbying the
Singapore-based Tiger Airways to establish an Australian operation.
The department facilitated international investment and local
industry growth in information and communications technology, which is commonly
known now as ICT. The department is supporting highly skilled ICT workforce
skills development as well.
There was also the launch of the Maintaining the Advantage —
Skilled Victorians statement, and along with that statement was $241 million,
over a four-year period, dedicated to increasing productivity and workforce
participation. The other major initiative undertaken by the department at that
time was the establishment of the Victorian Office of the Workplace Rights
Advocate. It provided free telephone and online advice about the new industrial
relations system which was introduced by the former federal government. It
provided Victorians with an ability to receive independent advice on industrial
Regional development in Victoria continued to grow, with a $502
million action plan for growth in provincial Victoria. During the reporting
period we also had the government’s 10-year tourism and events industry strategy
launched in October 2006.
The benefits achieved were well documented and that strategic
plan encourages employment and investment in this key area, particularly in
regional Victoria. Of course we also saw the Time to Thrive policy, which
provided a very practical $98 million package of innovative initiatives to
reduce red tape, boost the skills base and help small businesses grow. Overall,
all those initiatives meant that the department worked in partnership with a
whole range of organisations and communities right across Victoria.
This happened against the backdrop of a relentless drought
environment and an increase in the value of the Australian dollar, but at the
same time we did manage to have increased employment and population growth and
business investment right across Australia. The department should be
congratulated on the role it played through that period.
Whilst we did see significant growth in our key industries, it
should not be forgotten that regional Victoria had a very difficult time during
the reporting period of this report. Residents and businesses endured drought
and also battled devastating bushfires and flooding in the north-east and the
west. The department responded to these challenges and developed and delivered
$138 million of initiatives for environmental, community and business recovery
in bushfire-affected regions, and $146 million in drought assistance packages
for farmers, businesses and communities. That is not to say that it forgot that
the importance of skills and skills shortages issues needed to be addressed. It
also kept on working on a whole range of issues of globalisation and
competition, rapid economic, social and technological change and the shift in
balance of world economic growth.
All in all the department needs to be commended in the way it
has approached the year. Ms Pulford and I met with a regional CEO as recently as
He confirmed that a number of regional councils absolutely applaud this government for having a one-stop
shop in regional development where they can come to talk about their problems
and get their problems fixed.