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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2137 ..

Land Sales

MR HIRD: I am going to take the same tack as I did yesterday. I am not going to waste the house's time. I am not going to ask a supplementary question. My question is to the Minister Assisting the Treasurer. Mr Berry keeps on interjecting. I am trying to concentrate, and I know the Minister Assisting the Treasurer is trying to listen to my question.

MR SPEAKER: Let us go on with it, please, Mr Hird. We have a lot to do. Get on with it, please.

MR HIRD: My question is to the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, Mr Humphries. Comments have been made in this place that the Territory's land sales are in a slump and that property values are falling. The Territory's land resources are one of the most significant and important assets. There have been several land auctions in recent weeks. Is the Government making sure that the ACT taxpayer is getting the best return on these assets?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mr Hird for that question. It is a very appropriate question, given some of the extraordinary comments we have heard in the recent last little while about the state of the ACT economy. We have heard suggestions, even today in the course of debate on the Appropriation Bill, that there are still problems with a sluggish economy. I can understand that it is in the interests of the Opposition to bag out the economy every now and again, because by doing so they bag out the Government.

When you enter into such an exercise, you hope that there is at least a few slim pieces of evidence to rely upon. When economic growth is the highest of any State in Australia, when unemployment stands at its lowest rate in nine years, when retail sales are surging, when every other economic indicator you can think of is pointing to the ACT going ahead in leaps and bounds, it is pretty inventive to find something that is not quite pointing in the same direction, but the Opposition thought it had something of that kind when it pointed to the land market, the real estate market, in the ACT.

We heard the Opposition this morning comment, "Land sales are still not very strong, and there is a bit of sluggishness in the land market. In fact, land sales are in a slump and property values are falling". Mr Speaker, I think it is worth while knocking that one slender piece of so-called evidence for their supposition of a weak economy well and truly out from underneath them. The reality is that the opposite is the case. It may historically have been the case that there was some sluggishness in the Canberra property market - no doubt about that - but I will come to the reason for that in a moment.

Clearly, however, at the moment, that is not the case. There is great strength in the property market in the ACT. In fact, I think members may have seen an article in today's Canberra Times entitled "Property market on the upswing". I will read a couple of paragraphs from that article:

Canberra's real estate market is in a strong recovery mode ...

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