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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 131..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I have just been handed advice which says that Major General Smethurst handed back his commission in 1999 after the coronial inquest findings were released. That appears to be the situation. It was not terminated by the government. It was, in fact, terminated by the inquirer himself.

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, given that sections 14 and 14A of the Inquiries Act require a final report in such a matter, can the Chief Minister inform me whether or not Major General Smethurst did in fact table a final report at the same time as he returned his commission? If not, why not?

MR HUMPHRIES: I am sure he did, Mr Speaker, because he did not conduct an inquiry.

Employment

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Humphries. I refer to a media release issued by Mr Berry on 11 January 2001 calling on the ACT government to announce its plans to deal with the predicted fall in employment in the ACT. I think it should too. Can the Chief Minister advise the Assembly of the government's strategy to create jobs in Canberra?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mrs Burke for that question. Yes, I have seen the press release from Mr Berry entitled, intriguingly, "Where's the plan?" That did cause me a little bit of interest, and I have looked into what Mr Berry had to say. Mr Berry, of course, has misunderstood the jobs figures. Apart from anything else, he has perhaps deliberately or perhaps accidentally-who knows?-chosen to blur the distinction between original and corrected figures, but that would not be anything unusual for Mr Berry.

Mr Smyth: Simplistic analysis yet again.

MR HUMPHRIES: Simplistic analysis yet again. Anyway, put that to one side. We have come to expect that. We know that is going to be the case.

The government's plan is the plan which has produced 17,000 new jobs in this territory in the last six years. It is a plan, however you want to describe it or however you want to denigrate it, which is obviously working. If you look into the detail of what we have done in the last six years, you will see that this is no accident. In 1996-97 and 1997-98, for example, our budgets deliberately targeted jobs for Canberra. We saw the challenge presented by the changes at the Commonwealth level, and our budgets focused on jobs for Canberra-and in a big way. Programs like Youth 500 and Youth 1000 targeted employment for young people. It is no coincidence that employment rates for young people have improved dramatically over that time.

We established the Australian Capital Region as a partnership between the ACT government and 17 regional councils in south-east New South Wales to focus on how between us we can keep our economy moving and jobs being created.


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