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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4805 ..

Bonds Issue

MR KAINE: Nobody else wants to ask one, Mr Speaker. In the absence of any questions from the Opposition, I would like to ask a question, through you, of the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, last month the Government undertook its first ever offshore fundraising with a bonds issue in Japan. Can you give the Assembly an update on that bonds issue and tell us how it is progressing?

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Kaine. I think this should be an issue that everybody in this Assembly should be very interested in. Mr Speaker, the ACT Samurai Bonds issue was released into the Japanese market early last month and closed on 28 November. I am delighted to inform members that the issue was fully subscribed after generating very keen interest among Japanese investors. The bonds were widely distributed throughout Japan, with 76 branches of Kokusai Securities participating in the placement. Individual Japanese investors purchased 89 per cent of the issue, with the remaining 11 per cent being taken up by Japanese corporate investors.

Mr Speaker, the total bonds issue raised in the order of 6.5 billion Japanese yen, or about $A70m, and was to refinance existing ACT Government borrowings. It may be of interest to members that the average subscribed amount was just under $A23,800, indicating that a large number of subscribers were attracted to the issue - in fact, more than 3,000 individuals and 23 corporations. The attractiveness of the ACT Government's Samurai Bonds issue was directly related to the ACT's excellent credit rating, Standard and Poor's AA for overseas borrowings. This is the highest rating available to an Australian borrower and it reflects the market's perception of the long-term strength of the ACT economy and ACT Government finances, Mr Speaker.

That is backed up by recent information in the Yellow Pages small business index which found that there was a net balance of small businesses surveyed in the ACT who expect to increase the size of their work force in the next three months to January 1997. It also is in line with the ANZ job advertisement statistics which are showing that the ACT is somewhat better placed than the majority of other States. Probably for very close to six months now unemployment has plateaued in the ACT. Of course, this month youth unemployment is actually down, Mr Speaker.

It does show that Japanese investors do not believe the ACT economy is doomed, contrary to those opposite who are forever going down the path of doom and gloom. In fact, Japanese investors, and a lot are very small investors - 3,000 individuals and 23 corporations - believe that this is a very good place to invest. Add that to the fact that our job advertisements are up, business confidence appears to be up in small business, and unemployment has now plateaued.

Mr Speaker, I think those opposite should rethink the sorts of statements that they are making. I think that Mr Whitecross should show some leadership, for a change. Mr Whitecross, instead of just knocking everything that is ever put forward, should spend the Christmas holidays having a bit of a look at himself, a bit of a look at his own leadership, and come back with some positive ideas for the future of this city. He should be a statesman to the extent of being able to say "Yes" to the things that he supports in this Assembly, and not just knock everything the Government does.

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