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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2010) . . Page.. 5831 ..

MS PORTER: Supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. How does the ACT labour market compare with other jurisdictions?

MS GALLAGHER: The ACT has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at the moment. I say that with a little bit of caution: although we are two percentage points below the national unemployment rate, as I am increasingly learning with the ABS data, particularly with small jurisdictions, there are a number of revisions made month by month. But it appears that we have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, well below the national unemployment rate and I think alongside the Northern Territory as the other jurisdiction with a low unemployment rate. We have the second highest participation rate in the country, which is excellent, at 72.8 per cent, which is seven per cent above the national average.

So in terms of how our own labour market is performing—I think the shadow treasurer opposite would say how the engine room of the economy is operating—all the signs are excellent. I guess the next thing that comes when you get to these levels is that you have to look out for the impact of skill shortages on the ACT. We continue to liaise with our industry partners around areas of pressure. With the limited capacity we have to make decisions around investments, we do that mindful of the advice that we are getting from the private sector about pressures that they are experiencing.

MR SMYTH: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Treasurer, you said in early 2008 that the package would be too small to stimulate. Are you now guessing that you have had an effect or can you table the analysis that proves your statements to the Assembly?

MS GALLAGHER: It is hard to accept that—

Mr Smyth: What? Hard to table the analysis? So you are guessing?

MS GALLAGHER: No, I am referring to your question and the reluctance—with you getting to your feet to actually try and put a bad light on these excellent figures. The comment I was making was around the local initiatives package, which I believe was a very modest package of about $20 million. I think the comments I am making more broadly, as the shadow treasurer would understand, relate to the ongoing investments we have made on top of that.

That package on its own was too small to stimulate, but it played an important role in maintaining employment based on advice that we were getting from industry about areas of pressure where they were seeing work dry up and could we look at a few areas where we needed work done, and we did that very quickly.

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