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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3839 ..

we are already seeing really strong forward bookings for the summer period for the ACT across the tourism sector.

Also, we expect the Treasurer to raise this point: domestic tourism is subject to the GST; international tourism is not. The taxes that you pay are paid to foreign governments when you travel overseas. So the other potential uplift for the territory, as the GST is our single largest source of revenue, is that the more domestic tourism there is, the greater the total GST pool.

For those who are unfamiliar with how the GST pool is distributed, it is not based on where the expenditure occurs. It does not matter where in Australia the money is spent; it all goes into one pool and then is distributed according to a somewhat complex but necessarily important formula of horizontal fiscal equalisation, where smaller jurisdictions, those who have less capacity to raise their own revenue, receive a greater than per capita share of the GST distribution, all of which is to say that the more money that is spent domestically in the Australian economy is not only good for the businesses where that money is spent but also good for the tax collections of the states and territories. As the GST is our single largest revenue source, it is also good for the recovery of the territory’s fiscal position, which, as Standard & Poor’s observed in their commentary on the ACT economy and the ACT budget, is already proceeding well ahead of the forecasts that were necessarily conservative in the budget that I delivered several months ago.

I have tabled in the Assembly the September quarter data. That shows that own-source revenue has increased and that, further, in the September quarter, in which we traditionally do see reasonably strong revenue collections, we also have seen that exceed those expectations and the territory was, in fact, operating quite a strong budget surplus in the September quarter. But we do normally do so, as a lot of territory expenditure occurs, obviously, after the passage of the appropriation bills and when we start seeing significant expenditure, for example, on new infrastructure projects.

In short, the recovery in retail spending is then flowing through into the labour market, and the ACT experienced the single largest increase in payroll jobs, according to the ABS data, as we started to emerge out of lockdown—the single largest increase of any of the states and territories in the most recent data. So what we are seeing is that, unsurprisingly as the economy opens up again and public health restrictions are eased, jobs flow back in quite significant numbers into a number of the most impacted industry sectors.

Combined with a 20 to 30 per cent increase in spending across these areas coming into the Christmas period in particular—and it is very clear already from just simply the foot traffic and the data from Google Analytics on where people are, where they are spending their time—we are seeing a significant return to a range of activities that people have not been able to do during lockdown, and that is feeding through into a really strong economic picture coming into the final quarter of this calendar year.

Provided we can continue to manage the public health situation and the new variants of the virus do not elude our vaccination protection and we are able to successfully

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