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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2126 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

that, when it starts to fall, they start to worry. My guess is that the first few months were during the Hyundai phenomenon, with heaps of redundant workers buying new cars with their packages; but we have to question 12 months of continued contraction. That is beyond a technical recession in new motor vehicle registrations.

Then there is the big one - State final demand. The Chief Minister was correct in stating that the annualised growth at the end of the March quarter was 5.8 per cent on original terms. The original figures are subject to question because there may have been events in the quarter, such as post-Christmas sales, which affected the outcome, something that is problematic from a long-term planning point of view. But what happened with the month to month change? It contracted. The Assembly should be aware that the figures for State final demand have now been negative for three quarters over the past 16 months. Fortunately, the contractions have not been consecutive. The Australian economy as a whole has recorded only one period of stagnation but then 12 months of positive growth. Is the ACT situation indicative of a boom, as the Chief Minister alluded to? Clearly, the answer is no.

Let us examine some of the forward-looking indicators to see how we will be going in the future. The ABS indicators report for June has an interesting figure for us to digest. The value of housing finance commitments contracted by 22 per cent in original terms or, from a long-term planning point of view, by 12.6 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms. That means that the amount of building work in the future, building commencements, is going to contract as well. That means less economic activity in the construction industry.

What about ACT business expectations for future sales as recorded by the ABS? Medium-term expectations are for an increase in sales of 1.7 per cent by the March quarter 2000 compared to the March quarter 1999 - 1.7 per cent. The national figure has increased sales of 2.3 per cent. I think that is an indication of overstatement on the part of the Chief Minister. I think that, overall, I have ventured sufficient indicators to register a concern. I am not downplaying the ACT economy, but I do resent to some extent the Chief Minister coming into this place with this "happy days are here again" stuff.

Ms Carnell: It is the view of the business community.

MR QUINLAN: Is that a Chris Peters one? Does that have the high degree of credibility attributed to Mr Peters?

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (12.40): I ask for leave to move together amendments 1 and 2 circulated in my name.

Leave granted.


Column 4, omit "8,348,000", substitute "35,731,241".

Column 6, omit "93,847,000", substitute "121,230,241".

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