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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2127..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I do not believe that this process ... could have been handled any worse than this Minister has done.

Why have you handled this process so badly?

MR BARR: I do not accept the premise of the question that I have handled the process badly. That was a view expressed by an individual at the Labor Party conference. That is a matter for that individual. Clearly, at the end of the day the resolution at the conference showed strong support for the government's position in relation to the school debate. There were a variety of motions covered during the day. Not all of them received the wide reporting that this particular motion did. I note that the conference endorsed the position that the government has put forward.

I believe that this consultation process is a good and constructive one. Certainly, I am finding it to be very valuable. All of the meetings that have been held so far have been positive and constructive. I look forward to the continuation of the consultation process. It is a valuable thing. It is good to see that, at least out in the community and the schools, people are prepared to engage on educational issues and talk about how we can improve public education in the ACT, unlike the experience in this place, where it seems that political point-scoring is the order of the day.

MR STEFANIAK: Minister, why have you failed to win the support of the majority of members of the parliamentary Labor Party in relation to an amendment to delay school closures until December 2007?

MR BARR: I have not failed. In fact, I received the support of the conference in relation to the government's position and I have the full support of all of my colleagues.

Employment

MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Can the Treasurer outline to the Assembly the significance of the latest employment figures for Canberra which were released last week?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for the question. The latest unemployment figures are of incredible significance, not only for Canberra of course but indeed for the whole of Australia. Trend unemployment in the ACT reported last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is at 2.8 per cent, the lowest on record for all of Australia. Unemployment in the ACT, trending at 2.8 per cent after five years of Labor government, is a fantastic achievement.

Significantly low trend unemployment is a great achievement by this government, by the Canberra community and by employers in the ACT. It is a fantastic result and of enormous significance. The last time any Australian jurisdiction recorded an unemployment rate below three per cent was in 1980, when the Northern Territory recorded an unemployment rate of 2.9 per cent.

The significance of the unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent-and it is truly significant-is put into some context in terms of the labour market here in the ACT when one reflects


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