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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 757..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Now why do you suppose that it is not possible to give you a definitive view about the size of the equalisation payment today? Because the work has not been done. Why has the work not been done? Because it is going to cost a lot of money. Why have they not spent that money so far? Because the Assembly has not yet given the approval to go ahead with this process.

I ask members to throw their minds back to a year ago, when the Government did work through organisations like Fay Richwhite and ABN AMRO on the proposed sale of ACTEW. At the time, Mr Speaker, there was trenchant criticism of the Government for having spent the money on those reports before the approval of the Assembly had been obtained to the idea of selling ACTEW. Remember? We remember very clearly about that. Now we are saying, "Okay, before we spend the money, we are asking for approval from the Assembly", and we are told, "You have the cart before the horse again".

The fact is that there is no combination of cart and horse that is going to satisfy this mob over here, Mr Speaker, and I think that the community understands that the Labor Party is throwing up one red herring after another, one smokescreen after another, one straw man after another. Take your pick of analogies, Mr Speaker.

Employment Rates and Job Growth

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister, Mrs Carnell. Can the Chief Minister confirm to this parliament that the ACT now has Australia's lowest unemployment rate, and its fastest rate of jobs growth?

Mr Wood: That has always been the case.

MS CARNELL: No, actually it has not always been the case.

Mr Berry: It has been the case for the last 20 years.

Mr Wood: Tell us something new.

MR SPEAKER: Order! You did not ask the question. Mr Hird deserves an answer and he deserves to hear it in silence.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, today I am really pleased to be able to tell the Assembly that, together with the Northern Territory, the ACT now has the lowest unemployment rate in Australia. And, Mr Speaker, those opposite obviously have it wrong because the Northern Territory actually has been lower than us in the past, but it is no longer. The ACT and the Northern Territory together have the lowest unemployment rate in Australia. In February our trend unemployment rate was just 5.3 per cent, down from 5.4 per cent in the previous month, and the lowest figure since August 1990. It is the lowest in a decade, Mr Speaker. Let me repeat that for Mr Berry, because he is walking away at the moment and obviously he is not interested.

MR SPEAKER: No, no, do not provoke him.

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