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European Australian Business : 2008
72 Canberra ’s Strategic Location Canberra is strategically positioned between the major State capitals of Sydney and Melbourne. A modern freeway puts Sydney’s metropolitan area within a three-hour drive. Each week, there are around 300 aircraft flights between Canberra and Sydney, 200 between Canberra and Melbourne and 100 between Canberra and Bris- bane, plus daily direct flights to most State capitals and a range of regional centres. There is also a direct rail link between Canberra and Sydney which carries passengers and freight. A Growing Economy The ACT’s Gross State Product (GSP) rose by 5 per cent in volume terms in 2006–07 to reach A$21 billion. The ACT’s growth in GSP was higher than the national Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 3.2 per cent. Over the past 10 years, GSP in Canberra has grown in real terms by almost 40 per cent. The Workforce Canberra’s workforce comprises approximately 200,000 people, made up of 190,000 residents plus around 10,000 who commute from nearby population centres in NSW. About 115,000 Canberrans are employed in the Territory’s private sector, with the balance employed in the public sector. The labour market in Canberra is particularly strong. It has amongst the lowest rate of unemployment of Aus- tralia’s eight jurisdictions, and one of the highest labour force participation rates in Australia. Education Levels of educational participation and attainment in Canberra exceed those of any other Australian jurisdiction. For example, Canberra has the high- est retention rate of full-time students from Year 10 to Year 12, at 88.9 per cent. Of Canberra residents aged 15 to 64 years, 22.5 per cent have a bachelor degree, compared with 14.9 per cent nationally. A further 12.9 per cent of Canberrans have a post-graduate degree compared with the national average of 5.9 per cent. High Productivity Canberra’s work force is highly educated and highly productive. Gross State Product per capita reached A$62,793 in 2006-07, a level 31 per cent above the national average. There were 0.1 working days lost per 1,000 employees in the Australian Capital Territory for the year to Sep- tember 2007. This is well below the national figure of 8.8 working days lost per 1,000 employees. Modern Telecommunications Infrastructure The high quality of infrastructure serving Canberra provides many advantages to business. Canberra was one of the first cities in the world to introduce a broadband fibre-optic network, and the Australian Capital Territory is now ranked alongside Sin- gapore, Finland, Sweden and the USA as having one of the world’s most IT- connected communities. Key Industry Sectors Defence And Security The defence and security sector is arguably Canberra’s largest discrete industry sector. It comprises the Department of Defence and various national security agencies, plus pri- vate businesses that provide products and services to these agencies, and a number of other defence related institutions. It also includes garrison support, professional services and major capital equipment manufactur- ers and suppliers. The Department of Defence has one of the largest budgets of any Australian Government agency at around A$19.7 billion for the financial year 2007–08. Roughly 15 per cent, or A$3 billion of this, is directly spent within the Can- berra economy. For example, there are over 13,000 military and defence-civilian personnel working in Canberra and the region, or about 14 per cent of the nation’s Defence employment. Canberra is also home to Australia’s leading military college, the Royal Military College (RMC) at Duntroon and the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). The Australian National Univer- sity is also home to the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and the Aus- tralian Strategic Policy Institute. Other Canberra-based defence and intelli- gence agencies include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Defence Signals Directorate and the Office of National Assessments. Canberra’s defence and security sec- tor is growing and there are significant opportunities for private sector com- panies to participate in this growth and development.