Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 485..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
But seriously-and, indeed, a recession is a serious business-are we in fact in a recession? The generally accepted definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The ACT, as Mr Stanhope and all his candidates and those opposite should well know, is not in recession. For the record, the ACT has not experienced a recession since two consecutive quarters of negative growth were experienced in March and June 1995. In fact, our state final demand growth has been outstripping the nation by more than double.
In the recent business confidence survey that I mentioned earlier, 74 per cent of businesses surveyed said that the ACT economy would remain at its current rate or continue to strengthen, with 27 of those expecting that ACT general business conditions to improve. Over half of the respondents had experienced a rise in sales revenue, 24 per cent had experienced a rise in profit levels and 30 per cent expected their profit levels to increase and one-third expected them to remain unaltered-hardly a recession.
The ABS retail trade figures showed that the trend retail trade turnover in the ACT had increased by 0.8 per cent to $262.6 million during December 2000, well above its level at the same time in the previous year-in fact, up almost 14 per cent. Over the 12 months ending December 2000, the ACT experienced the highest trend growth in retail sales of any state or territory and about double the next largest growth recorded in South Australia.
You then have to add this to other indicators like the Morgan and Banks job index, which is based on a survey of 6,800 employers across Australia. I think the headline on its press release was "ACT on the boil: hardly a recession". It said that employers in the ACT are experiencing confidence with 43.5 per cent intending to increase staff in the next quarter and 7.7 per cent predicting decreases, giving a net effect of 35.8 per cent. This highlights the positive attitude of medium-sized organisations as well as small businesses continuing their high levels of confidence in the ACT. This is hardly the picture of the gloom and doom that the Labor Party has traditionally put forward and will no doubt continue to put forward in the lead-up to the election.
MR HIRD: I am delighted. I ask a supplementary question. Minister, Mr Athol Williams also claimed that because trade was recessed retailers were not putting on new employees. Can the minister again tell the parliament whether there is any evidence to support this claim, or is it simply that foot-and-mouth disease has been caught by Labor candidates for Brindabella?
Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a new question. It is certainly not a supplementary question.
MR SPEAKER: It is part of the same statement, but the tail rhetoric can be dispensed with.
MR SMYTH: It is another curious truth from Labor that employers are not hiring and are cutting existing staff's hours.
Mr Berry: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. You ought to rule out that part of the question which refers to the Labor Party. That Mr Smyth is responsible for the Labor Party is as far from the truth as you can get.