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MR SPEAKER: If people wish to have conversations there are lobbies provided for them in which to conduct those conversations. Please continue, Leader of the Opposition.

MS FOLLETT: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Moore: Not for Independents.

MR SPEAKER: Both sides. Please continue, Ms Follett.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I was referring to the conversation behind me.

MR SPEAKER: Interjections are out of order.

MS FOLLETT: If I have to talk over noise I will lose my voice extremely rapidly. There is no doubt about that.

MR SPEAKER: Interjections are out of order. They are even more out of order when you are out of your seat, Mr Moore.

MS FOLLETT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am going to need an extension of time, I think.

The gross state product growth in the ACT was exceeded only by that in Queensland and Western Australia, and very fractionally by that in Victoria, which started from an extremely low base; and that could hardly be referred to as the destruction of the economy. Indeed, the ACT economy over that period grew to equal that of Tasmania. We both had a gross state product in December 1994 of $2,380m. Mr Speaker, even more important than the gross state product is an examination of what underlies that GSP growth. The gross operating surplus - that is the measure of company profitability - rose by about 22 per cent, compared to the national average of less than 19 per cent. What this means, of course, is greater profitability for Canberra firms over that period. In fact, Mr Speaker, one particular ACT firm was so profitable that its owner deserted the Liberal Party in this Assembly to return to running his business. I will come back to that later.

Probably the most important indicator for the Canberra community, Mr Speaker, is the issue of job growth. The economy is not some abstract entity. It is the measure of many of the factors which impact on people's lives. Nothing affects people in our community directly as much as their employment. Between December 1991 and December 1994 the Labor Government which I had the privilege to lead saw the creation of 11,300 new jobs - a growth of 7.9 per cent over the three years. During that same period national job growth was only 5.6 per cent. That means, Mr Speaker, that 11,300 Canberrans have the ACT Labor Government to thank for the fact that, today, they have a job. It will be very interesting, I believe, to compare the performance of this Government in three years’ time on its success in job creation. Given the track record of the Liberal Party in Canberra, I believe that there is no cause for optimism.

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