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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Friday, 23 April 2021) . . Page.. 1167 ..

prior to the pandemic is the government’s number one economic policy goal. As I mentioned in a number of my budget speeches over the course of the week, we have now got to the point where the number of job vacancies in the territory equals the number of unemployed people. Pre pandemic, we had significantly more job vacancies than we had unemployed people. We had an unemployment rate with a three in front of it. It would be nice to see that drop to having a two in front of it. We have the best performing labour market in Australia.

I think our emerging challenge will be in skills. That is why there is a significant investment in TAFE, higher education and school-level training that we are delivering, in partnership with the Australian government. We will focus on sustainable economic growth and the delivery of quality and efficient public services.

We will continue to move to ensure the sustainability of public finances. I note, again, that the territory is the only AAA rated jurisdiction in Australia now, and one of only about 14 in the world at a subnational government level. We have achieved that because of the tax reforms of the last decade. If we had the tax system of 2011 now, we would not have a credit rating. We would have been hit badly during the pandemic and, indeed, by earlier economic shocks. So another reason why tax reform was the right thing to do is demonstrated by the territory’s fiscal and economic position now. We have a larger economy and a more stable revenue base because of tax reform. The government will continue this reform process.

DR PATERSON: Chief Minister, how is the government embedding the wellbeing framework into the budget process?

MR BARR: The framework will be the guiding platform for which new policies, programs and initiatives will be considered from the budget that we will deliver, at the end of August, for the next fiscal year onwards. The 2021-22 budget will further embed how the wellbeing framework will be implemented in the territory. Wellbeing impact assessments will be required to identify the key implications of new spending proposals within and across the 12 domains of the ACT wellbeing framework.

The impact assessments being developed for new proposals will help the government’s budgeting approach to ensure that our new spending proposals are holistic and consider the enduring impact of government decisions across the specific areas identified within the wellbeing framework. This is a change to the way government budgets are delivered. We will be the first Australian state or territory to go down this path, closely following our friends and colleagues across the ditch, in New Zealand, with whom we have been working closely as we watch the implementation of their framework and use their experience to guide our own initial steps down this path. I think it is a worthy public policy reform. It is nation leading. It is not world leading, but it is certainly Australian leading. We look forward to going through that process as we develop the 2021-22 budget.

MS ORR: Chief Minister, can you please update the Assembly on the ACT’s employment market conditions?

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