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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1572 ..


infrastructure in the territory. As I have said on many occasions, when the two governments are able to align priorities and work together, we are able to deliver some important infrastructure projects for our city. I again thank the Deputy Prime Minister, in his role as minister for infrastructure, and Treasurer Frydenberg, for his engagement on these and a number of other projects.

As I reiterated in the last sitting, it is about time that the commonwealth stepped up. They have; I acknowledge it and welcome it. We do not have marginal federal electorates inside the ACT at this point in time, so we have tended to be overlooked for significant commonwealth investment. But the commonwealth government are the major anchor of this city, so it is pleasing to see their involvement now in our city’s infrastructure future.

The pipeline of infrastructure is a critical element of the ACT government’s Jobs and Economic Recovery Plan, as we emerge from the pandemic with a desire for a stronger and more resilient economy and employment base. Infrastructure, and all that it enables, not just the construction jobs during construction but the productivity benefits and the service delivery benefits, all contribute to the ACT’s medium-term employment goal, which is to grow our employment base to over 250,000 jobs by 2025.

The ACT continues to have the strongest labour market in the country. It is clear that the short-term challenges, whilst international migration remains closed, will be skill shortages in particular industry sectors. That will, of course, mean that labour will be more mobile around Australia, to move to where the jobs are. There will be jobs in the ACT economy in a diverse range of sectors, and we will be able to offer those Australians, those people who are already here, fantastic jobs and the best, most liveable city in Australia to come to.

It will, of course, require some firms to pay more than they have previously. But some wage price inflation in our economy, locally and nationally, is needed after nearly a decade of wage stagnation. This is the approach that the Reserve Bank of Australia and federal Treasury are advising. It is certainly the approach that the ACT government is seeking to pursue—that a tighter labour market will mean that we will see more interstate migration, but it will also put some upward pressure on wages in our economy. That is what we need at this point in the economic cycle.

Looking particularly at the construction industry, payroll jobs fell by about 2.6 per cent between March and April 2020, during the peak of the pandemic, when certain industry sectors were shut down or severely limited in terms of their operations. It is pleasing to see that about 60 per cent of the jobs that were lost in that period have been recovered as of the May data last month. There is still room for some further recovery in construction sector employment. The infrastructure pipeline that the government has outlined should give great confidence to those firms, local and national, that operate in our market.

The Jobs and Economic Recovery Plan sends a clear message around our desire to invest in the city’s infrastructure, to invest in the city’s future, to give business the confidence to co-invest with us and to keep Canberrans in work. This extends to the


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