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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 3337..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

families. The government delivered 3,400 blocks in 2007-08, the largest amount of residential land released in a single year since self-government. A further 4,200 blocks are scheduled to be released this year. Our $1 billion infrastructure investment announced in the 2008-09 budget will make key community services even better and ensure that they meet the needs of the Canberra community into the future. We are doing all of this while still delivering budget surpluses.

The ACT has experienced a period of sustained economic growth and prosperity. The last few years have seen renewed economic activity, providing a foundation for increased confidence in the ACT. Currently, unemployment is at near record lows, the participation rate is around the highest ever, and investment continues at near record levels. In fact, the most recent data shows that the number of vacant jobs in the ACT exceeds the number of unemployed persons. Official labour market data shows that over the past 12 months, 4,200 new jobs have been created, bringing to a total 21,700 new jobs created in the ACT since we came to office in 2001. Recently, the government has responded to the report of the Skills Commission with a comprehensive package of initiatives and investments totalling $51 million. This was in response to consistent demand for labour.

The confidence stems from this government's sound fiscal and economic management. We have put the territory's finances on a sustainable footing, and we have committed to the future. We are helping to create an environment that is conducive to doing business. Under this government, there have been high levels of private investment, which indicates a high level of confidence in the future prospects of the economy. Most impressive is the fact that this high level of investment is being sustained. The volume of private investment in the ACT in the March quarter 2008 was almost 20 per cent higher than the volume of investment three years ago in March 2005.

Looking forward, the government is aware of projects worth over $3 billion which are committed or proposed with a high degree of certainty over the coming three to four years. This unprecedented level of private sector investment reflects confidence in the future. This government's investment record is already the best of any government since self-government. Since the election, the ABS data shows the volume of investment undertaken by this government has averaged around $225 million per annum, around $20 million per annum higher than in the previous period since self-government. The whole community benefits as a result of this kind of approach to economic management.

MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?

MR GENTLEMAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Deputy Chief Minister, are there any issues that you are aware of that might put our strong balance sheet at risk?

MS GALLAGHER: Our careful management of the economy means that this government is well placed to be able to withstand some of the external factors that have the potential to impact on the ACT economy. With virtually full employment and ongoing strong demand for workers, a high level of investment activity in the pipeline and a high level of confidence in the territory's economy, we are perhaps as well placed as ever to deal with these factors.

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