Page 1484 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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confirmation of the strength of the economic recovery in the territory. State final demand is now up 3.2 per cent over the year—one of the strongest rates of economic growth of any of the Australian states or territories.

Currently, we have 234,500 people in employment, with a participation rate of 70.7 per cent—one of the highest workforce participation rates in Australia. Unemployment is at 3.1 per cent. There are 11,500 job vacancies currently in the territory, and only 7,600 unemployed people. What this means is that we have one of the strongest labour markets in Australia, and we have pushed the boundaries of what constitutes full employment, thanks to a greatly diversified economy. So from here we need to commit to creating more good, secure, local jobs, further lowering that unemployment rate to increase the workforce participation rate and to finally see some real wage growth.

We need to invest more in TAFE and university places. It is great to see the federal government committing to that. We need to work with business to invest in renewables. It is great to see a federal government commitment to that. We need to invest more in the care economy—aged care and childcare, in particular. We need to make childcare cheaper. That will support workforce participation. And we need to support better pay and conditions for workers. Those were all policies that were front and centre of the last federal election campaign. These federal policies, combined with the ACT government’s own actions will drive our economic recovery. (Time expired.)

MR PETTERSSON: Chief Minister, how significant is the tertiary sector to Canberra’s economy, and how does the election result impact the sector in the ACT?

MR BARR: Tertiary education is a very significant part of our economy. One of the things we can absolutely conclude from the federal election result is that the war on Australian universities is over. After a decade of treating universities as badly as the Australian Public Service was treated—sometimes, even worse: slashing funding and damaging Australia’s brand internationally as a great destination for study and making it even harder to attract new students to our nation—the sweeping away of that rotten coalition government last month paves the way for a renaissance and recovery of the Australian university sector! It is a key economic priority for this jurisdiction and, indeed, international tertiary education is a major part of almost all state and territory economies. So I am delighted that the war on universities will end, and that the new federal government is committed to investing more in universities—more study opportunities for Australians, more certainty for universities, and a desire to work with them to grow our nation’s research and development base and to lead to a smarter Australia.

What sort of federal government wants to divest from one of the biggest and most significant industries in Australia? The previous coalition government. Why would they not support a smarter Australia? I think we got a bit of an insight with the sort of federal campaign that was run by that coalition of parties. It is such an amazing thing for this nation now that the war on universities is over.

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