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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2169..

Strength of economy and job market

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Dr Foskey, Mr Gentleman, Mr Mulcahy, Ms Porter and Mr Stefaniak proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Ms Porter be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The strength of the ACT economy and ACT job market.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.20): I would like to put on the record in this place just how pleased I am to be a member of the Stanhope government. I am a member of a visionary government, a government that is committed to a sustainable future where high-quality services are delivered to the people of the ACT on the back of a strong economy and job market.

Let us be very clear about this. As we have just heard from our Chief Minister and Treasurer, the ACT does have a strong economy. The former Treasurer, Mr Ted Quinlan, regularly told us to look to the skies around Canberra to find proof of the strength of our economy. But there is more proof of the strength of our economy than the state of our skies and the number of cranes that are in it.

If we briefly take a look at the ACT job market, we have the highest work force participation and the highest female work force participation rates in the country. Unemployment is at just 2.8 per cent, the lowest rate on record across the country. This is one of the more remarkable achievements of the Stanhope government, further emphasising that job creation is more than healthy in the ACT, healthier than it has been since 2001. It is something that this government can rightly be proud of. No other government in the history of this nation can match our level of record unemployment.

Our retail sector continues to grow, and this is a reflection of consumer confidence here in the ACT. The people of Canberra know they are in good hands with the Stanhope government. The people of Canberra know they can trust the Stanhope government to keep our economy strong.

Residential building approvals in the ACT are up to June this year. At the same time they dropped 5.4 per cent nationally and 16.3 per cent across the border in New South Wales. Meanwhile, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia, the ACT has the best home loan affordability in the nation. Canberrans spend 18.8 per cent of their income on home loan repayments compared with 35 per cent in New South Wales.

Canberra is an innovative place and the fact is that our economy is rich in knowledge and assets. This is not a debatable point. The facts speak for themselves. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has told us that the ACT is home to approximately 12 per cent of Australia's total public sector research and development. That is an extremely high statistic on a per capita basis and is something I do not think we highlight enough. We spend approximately 12 per cent of Australia's total public sector research and development budget.

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