Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 3 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 951..
has taken the management of the budget seriously throughout our years in government and that this has delivered a very strong position for the ACT to be in.
So maintaining the AAA credit rating, we believe, is a very important objective for budgets going forward. We believe it sends a strong signal to potential investors around the strength of our economy, that it is a good place to do business, and certainly the AAA credit rating is something that this government is keen to retain in the years going forward. We do have a number of large expenditure projects going forward, particularly around our infrastructure, but we believe that our budget is in good enough shape to maintain this AAA credit rating whilst we embark on those very large and significant infrastructure projects for the future.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hargreaves, a supplementary question?
MR HARGREAVES: Yes, thanks, Mr Speaker. Minister, did Standard and Poor's also mention any other economic factors of relevance to the credit rating?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the supplementary. Standard and Poor's do highlight other strengths in relation to the credit rating for the ACT. These of course include the strong economy, our demographic base, the ACT government's financial management and the fact that from their point of view at this point in time expenditure decisions of the commonwealth are looking relatively stable as well.
There is no doubt that our economy is performing well. It is outperforming I think even the most optimistic commentators. State final demand grew solidly in the last nine months—I think the strongest growth we have seen since 2007. Our labour market remains very strong. Employment growth in February was 3.1 per cent. Our unemployment was the second lowest in the country at 31/2 per cent and our participation rate very high again at 73.1 per cent. Also, we are seeing that the property market continues to hold up well, with dwelling commencements continuing to achieve record numbers. Housing finance commitments again are holding up very well. I think everywhere you look in terms of economic indicators they are pointing to the strength of the ACT's economy.
We also say at this point in time that there are always risks on the horizon and certainly the Chief Minister and I have been up talking with our federal colleagues around the importance of considering Canberra in their quest to recover their budget. As well, we understand the pressures. In a way we are dealing with them on a micro level here to what the federal government is dealing with at the macro level, but we also understand that there are decisions that they need to take. We just like them, when they take them, to consider the role that the ACT plays and the important role that they play as a significant employer in this territory. (Time expired.)
Mr Stanhope: I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Mr Speaker presented the following papers: