The Property Council of Australia (ACT) today released its response to the ACT Skills Commission Interim Report.
Property Council ACT Executive Director Catherine Carter said: “The Property Council welcomes the Interim Report and is encouraged by its recognition that significantly increased population growth is central to addressing the current skills shortage.
“The Report again highlights the need for the ACT Government to adopt a population policy and develop strategies to not only retain the people who are born and grown up here, but to attract significant numbers of skilled workers into the Territory.
“The Canberra Plan included a population target for the ACT of 500,000 by 2026 which represents a realistic and appropriate growth rate. This work needs to be built on by the Government,” Ms Carter said.
The Property Council recommended the ACT Government establish a new unit within the Chief Minister’s Department to take responsibility for developing and implementing the ACT population policy.
“The Government already has programs such as the Skilled and Business Migration Program and the Live in Canberra campaign to try and attract workers to the Territory, but they operate independently and need to be integrated into a coordinated, whole of government effort. That’s why the Chief Minister needs to establish a dedicated unit within his department to provide a unified, strategic approach to what is the biggest challenge currently facing the Territory.
“The consequences of Canberra continuing to grow at only very slow rates, or to have negative population growth, are dire for the community and for government. Action needs to be taken immediately as the effects of the shortage of skilled workers are already being felt across a wide range of sectors.
“We also need to ensure that extra capacity is introduced into the ACT economy so it can continue to grow and provide employment and revenue to the Territory budget.” As the report states:
‘In fact, the [Skills] Commission is of the view that the size of the population in the ACT and the wider regional area, is insufficient to grow the skills base of the local economy into the future.’
“It is also encouraging to see the Report reinforce the need for the ACT Government to look at the cost and availability of housing, including stamp duty concessions, as a key component to the overall attractiveness of Canberra as a place to live and work. This reflects the Property Council’s long held public view that property related are far too high in the ACT and directly impact on Canberra’s competitiveness.
“Overall, the Property Council believes the Skills Commission is broadly on the right track, and looks forward to continuing to work with it and the ACT Government to ensure Canberra’s economy continues to grow and prosper,” Ms Carter said.