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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 203..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

real growth adjusted for inflation, rose by 3.4 per cent, quite significantly outstripping the national rate of growth of GDP in Australia.

We are doing better than the rest of Australia. Our rate of growth is surpassed only by Western Australia and Queensland, the only two jurisdictions in Australia that have a higher rate of GDP growth than the ACT. Of course, that growth is driven exclusively by commodity sales. Similarly, in the last year, retail spending in the ACT grew by $281 million year on year to January 2007, reaching an annual total of $4.1 billion, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Once again that was a growth rate of 7.3 per cent, significantly outstripping the national rate of growth of retail sales of six per cent.

The strength of retail trade in the ACT certainly shows how confident people in the ACT are in the future of the ACT economy and how satisfied they are with the economic management of this government. Not only are members of the broad community confident; according to the Sensis business index small businesses remain extremely confident in the ACT economy. The Sensis report revealed that compared to small businesses in the rest of Australia, a higher percentage of ACT small businesses employed extra workers over the past quarter. That report also shows that our strong economic conditions have led to an increased willingness for business operators to invest in the ACT with capital expenditure growing markedly in that quarter.

Similarly, growth in employment and investment, combined with the fact that business confidence rose six percentage points to 61 per cent shows the level of confidence by small business in the ACT economy. There has been additional data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics over the past week that shows that both private sector employers and employees are also benefiting. According to the ABS, the total value of goods and services sold by the private sector in the ACT rose 8.3 per cent to reach $4.55 billion in the December quarter of 2006-the fastest growth rate of any state or territory in Australia.

The report also shows that the total value of private sector sales in the ACT reached $16 billion in 2006, a growth rate of 17.6 per cent, which again is the highest in Australia. Similarly, employees are also benefiting from the strength of the ACT's private sector. The total value of wages and salaries paid by the private sector rose by 9.1 per cent, well above the national growth rate of six per cent. The ABS also shows that during 2006 total wages and salaries paid by the private sector grew by 12.3 per cent, once again almost twice the national rate of growth.

The economy really is incredibly strong. That is evident wherever we go around the ACT. Figures released in the recent past by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the value of construction work done in the ACT achieved a new record in real terms in 2006, at $2.17 billion. The fact that the value of construction work done in the ACT has reached a new record and has grown by 56 per cent over the same time last year is indisputable evidence of the strength of the economy and the confidence of the local business community and the national community in the Australian Capital Territory.

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