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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Friday, 23 April 2021) . . Page.. 1168 ..

MR BARR: As I indicated in my response to the initial question, the labour market is our fundamental, number one, economic priority. We continue to lead the nation on almost every employment indicator: the lowest unemployment rate in Australia, the lowest youth unemployment rate in Australia and the lowest under-employment rate in Australia. We have the second highest labour force participation rate, at a little over 70 per cent, which is significantly higher than the Australia-wide average of about 66 per cent.

Our strong labour market reflects the strength of our public health response to the COVID pandemic and the policies that were put in place to support employment, both public sector and private sector. There is a target for the ACT to achieve 250,000 jobs in our economy by 2025. We were up to around 240,000 pre pandemic. We lost more than 10,000 jobs. We have now got them back and we are on our way to growing to over 250,000 jobs.

The commonwealth employs about 60,000 people in the ACT. The ACT government employs a little over 20,000. The next biggest employers are our universities and then large business, in terms of individual employment. Then, as we have been discussing in the Assembly, small and micro businesses account for a significant proportion—although not two-thirds—of all employment in the territory.

We will continue to focus on policies that support the growth of both public and private sector jobs in the territory. They need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, if both sectors grow then our total employment will grow, and that is the government’s focus.

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders—youth

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Attorney-General. Attorney, your incoming portfolio brief states you have indicated that your immediate institutional priority is to create an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people’s commissioner. This brief also states that work to develop and consult on a model for this position could commence in late 2020 or early 2021 and the new commissioner could be in place within two years. In answer to a question on notice directed to Minister Cheyne, however, she said that this Labor-Greens government had no specific time frame for creating this position. Attorney, since this is your immediate institutional priority, why does your government have no specific time frame for making it happen?

MR RATTENBURY: Madam Speaker, I am going to have to take that on notice and go and check that brief, because I do not recall giving that instruction to the directorate at any point in time. I have been very clear with my priorities for the directorate, and I do not recall making that indication to them. I will go and check the documents and provide a response on notice.

MRS KIKKERT: Maybe you can put this question on notice then: did work commence in late 2020 or early 2021 that you are not aware of, on developing and consulting on a model for this commissioner, and if not, why not?

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