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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2178..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

workers up the highway to Sydney-affordability in Sydney is twice the rate of the ACT. Eighteen per cent is the level of contribution that the average Canberra household makes to their mortgage; 35 per cent is the average contribution in Sydney. The property council and the Liberal Party think that people are going to run to Sydney to buy a house because they cannot afford one in Canberra. Get a grip on reality; get a grip on the basis of the statistics. It is significant.

We have had an issue in relation to population. We all know that. We have had an issue in relation to the availability of workers. We have had a significant issue in relation to skills. These are issues that we need to continue to work on, and each of us has a role to play in relation to that. But the scaremongering which has now become a feature, particularly of the property council, backed up by the Liberal Party, is not helpful to the territory. These things can become truths.

Mr Mulcahy, in his speech on this matter of public importance, says that the word is spreading throughout Sydney and the Sydney media that this is a high-taxing regime, that affordability is low and that investors, commonwealth departments and workers will leave the town. That is arrant nonsense. It is talking down the territory and it is creating an environment, particularly within the media that love to bash Canberra. For the property council and the Liberal Party to be feeding that Canberra-bashing mentality that we have to live with is shameful. It is talking down our town, talking down our prospects, talking down our future, which have never, ever been stronger than they are now. We all know it. It is a matter of severe disquiet to the opposition that the economy is so strong. Is not politics funny? The Liberal Party hate the fact that we are successful. They hate the fact that the economy is so strong.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Chief Minister, your time has expired. Mr Gentleman, do you wish to make a contribution?

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4. 57): Yes, I would love to have a chat to you about this. Mr Deputy Speaker, you heard earlier the Chief Minister say that the economy is booming. In the year to June 2006, the ACT has experienced growth in the economy, with increases in employment, businesses and innovation key indicators of such growth. Much of this growth has been in excess of the national average and is evidence of ongoing consumer and business confidence in the local economy.

To sustain and further encourage economic growth, it is essential that skills shortages be addressed and initiatives such as Live in Canberra, the ACT Skilled and Business Migration Program and the establishment of the ACT Skills Commission are supported and encouraged. Innovation is also a crucial part of the territory's economic development. With the ACT leading the way in research, development and education, it has placed itself in a prime position to contribute to the future of innovative practices and continue to enhance and develop its knowledge base to world-class standards.

Despite the positive employment figures, there is ongoing concern that there are skill shortages across many businesses and industry sectors within the ACT. According to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 79 per cent of employers of all sizes are concerned about their ability to recruit employees with appropriate skills, and 82.5 per cent of large employers also feel this way. This has the potential to severely

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