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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 698 ..

MR BARR: I am very happy to do so, and I thank Mr Pettersson for the question and the opportunity.

Mr Hanson: He’s a good man.

MR BARR: He is indeed a good man. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that, following the release of the territory budget in February, Standard & Poor’s undertook their assessment of the territory government’s credit rating and have once again affirmed the territory with the highest possible credit rating, AAA. This was a result of their assessment that the ACT was well placed to recover from the economic shock of the COVID pandemic and, with our successful health response to date, had created the foundations for a robust recovery.

I am pleased to advise the Assembly that the ACT is now the only sub-national government in the Asia-Pacific that retains a AAA credit rating. We are the only state or territory in Australia with a AAA credit rating. The ACT economy is recovering strongly from the pandemic, and S&P have independently determined, in their assessment of the territory economy, that we are outperforming our domestic and international peers.

Standard & Poor’s also praised the ACT government’s tax reform program, which I am sure those opposite will be interested to hear. It is a program that is now very well advanced. The government had always indicated and had always been clear, in pursuing this policy agenda, that the move away from narrow transaction-based taxes like stamp duties towards a more equitable and stable revenue base would have economic benefits, social benefits and, importantly, protect the territory against the exact sort of economic shock that we have experienced in the last few years. S&P have confirmed this in their assessment, stating that our fiscal base is less volatile. (Time expired.)

MR PETTERSSON: Chief Minister, can you please update the Assembly on the ACT employment market?

MR BARR: We have the lowest unemployment rate in Australia, at 4.1 per cent, and we have the lowest youth unemployment rate in Australia, at 10.3 per cent. This is significantly better than the Australia-wide rates of 5.8 per cent for general unemployment and 12.9 per cent for youth unemployment.

I am pleased to advise the Assembly that over the month to 13 March 2021, total employee jobs increased by 1.3 per cent and are now 0.6 per cent above the levels reported one year ago, at the start of the pandemic. What this means is that the jobs that were lost—and there were tens of thousands of them at the peak of the economic impact of the public health directions and the pandemic—have now been recovered.

Despite the ACT’s very strong employment figures, we do know, and we recognise, that there are a number of industries and workers across Australia who are still very much feeling the economic impact of the pandemic. Arts and recreation services, transport, accommodation and food services remain the most impacted and we see

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