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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 143 ..


MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is not to Mr Moore on this occasion but to the Chief Minister. I refer to a media release issued by Mr Berry on 7 December last year.

Mr Humphries: You do not read that trash, do you, Mr Hird?

MR HIRD: Most certainly I do. I hang on every word. Guru Berry over there said:

... Kate Carnell has created a leadership vacuum in employment creation in the ACT and this is shown up in declining confidence where the business sector is losing interest in employing Canberrans.

In light of this statement, Chief Minister, can you advise this parliament whether there is a vacuum in job creation in Canberra and how the Territory is actually performing in the employment stakes?

MS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Hird. I am not surprised that Mr Quinlan is going, because I do not think he reads these media releases either. Over the last few months Mr Berry, that well-known guru of economics and accounting, and now erstwhile expert in education, has been getting stuck into me and stuck into the Government about the state of the ACT economy.

Mr Berry: And he has not finished yet.

MS CARNELL: He is not finished yet, but he is going to leave, because he is embarrassed. Mr Speaker, he has been going on and on about what he says are three problems. One of those problems, he said, is that the economy is shrinking. He also said that there is a vacuum in employment creation. I would leave too, Mr Speaker. He also said there was falling business confidence. Is this true? It is hard to believe that Mr Berry, who is always right, could possibly be wrong on this occasion - or maybe he is right for the first time in his life.

Let us have a look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other surveys and see whether they back up Mr Berry's claims on what is happening right now in the ACT economy. Mr Berry said our economy was, to use his word, contracting. According to figures issued by the ABS in December, at the same time as Mr Berry's press release was put out, the ACT's economy had grown faster than that of any other State or Territory in the September quarter. Our State final demand had increased by 2.3 per cent in trend terms, more than double the national average. It seems that Mr Berry's knowledge of what "shrinking" and "contracting" are is a tiny bit warped.

Mr Hargreaves: Rhubarb, rhubarb, Mr Hird.

MS CARNELL: Mr Corbell says, "Rhubarb". Is he suggesting that the ABS - - -

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell did not, actually. He was not here.

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