Page 376 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022
Here in the territory our response has been underpinned by simple principles: significantly expand our healthcare system to protect our most vulnerable and protect jobs.
Economists will occasionally confess to forecasts being wrong the day after they are released, and the pandemic has only exacerbated that forecasting uncertainty. Here in the territory we endeavoured to be as transparent as possible. We released the first set of budget forward estimates of any Australian jurisdiction after the pandemic was declared. We also updated our approach to forecasting to include both upside and downside scenarios, to outline the potential impacts of different assumptions around pandemic-induced economic impacts.
We sought to keep our community as informed as possible about the future and give as much certainty as we could to households and businesses so that they had the confidence needed to support their own spending and investment decisions, despite all of the uncertainty. Against this backdrop, Madam Speaker, it is now time to look up and to lay out our priorities for economic recovery and sustainable growth.
Last week I did just that, launching the ACT’s economic development priorities for the next four years. The priorities are mission oriented. We presented a forward-looking policy document that sets out our ambitions to continue to grow a highly productive, diversified and progressive economy for the future.
Before outlining the three missions in CBR Switched On, our economic development priorities, it seems timely to provide an economic update across a few indicators that shape the context from which I laid out our missions for the future last week, a context that I think is best surmised with two words, and we have heard them from the health minister this morning: cautious optimism.
Entering the COVID crisis, the ACT economy was resilient, strong and increasingly diverse. In the five financial years before the pandemic, our strategy to grow our economy had seen the total number of ACT businesses grow by around 20 per cent, from just over 25,000 to more than 30,000 by mid-2019, with close to 20,000 additional jobs created in our economy.
The ACT’s real gross state product growth for the fiscal year 2020-21, the first full year of pandemic impact, was 2.8 per cent, an extraordinary result in Australian and, indeed, international contexts. What it marked was this territory’s 31st consecutive year of economic growth. Thirty-one consecutive years of economic growth. No other state or territory in Australia has achieved that outcome. We consistently outperform the Australian economy and, despite the impacts of the pandemic, the future growth trajectory of our economy remains broadly on track.
Turning to household spending, we know that an effective public health response, as we have just heard from the health minister, remains crucial to confidence and our economic recovery. This is what underpins consumer and business confidence and it is what has seen our economy bounce back through all of the setbacks over the last two years.