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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2712 ..

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, this Yellow Pages index is yet another independent indicator of the sustained period of strong job and business growth that is occurring here in the national capital. We have the second lowest unemployment rate in the country - lower than at any time under Labor - sustained growth in retail trade turnover, and increases in the state final demand figure for each of the last four quarters.

Mr Speaker, those opposite blame us when things are not as good as they think they should be, so it must be our fault that the economic indicators are great and that people in Canberra have jobs. Over the past five years, that is what this Government has been all about, with a 5.7 per cent unemployment rate, the lowest in nine years, 61/2 thousand jobs or new jobs since we came to government, and the lowest number of unemployed Canberrans since 1990.

Mr Berry: How many of them are full time?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, you would think even Mr Berry would concede that we must be doing something right, unless he thinks it is John Howard who has done it. I am quite comfortable, whatever he thinks. When you look at these figures, they really do show that this Government is a caring government which is concerned about social welfare, Mr Speaker, because, as we all know, the single issue that produces the best outcomes for quality of life and social justice is having a job. A whole lot more Canberrans have them now than when we came to government.

Fire Brigade

MR HARGREAVES: My question is for the Minister for Justice and Community Safety. Minister, last week the Fire Brigade made an offer to the firefighters union, an offer that equates to 1.5 per cent a year over three years and is tied to productivity and efficiency measures. I understand that the union has rejected the offer. Do you agree that over the last year the Fire Brigade has worked with 20 fewer firefighters, therefore achieving these efficiency gains in the form of productivity increases?

MR HUMPHRIES: No, I do not, Mr Speaker.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I do have a supplementary question, and I thank the Minister for the brevity of his answer. How can the Minister justify making a significant offer to support services to the Chief Minister's Department and yet offer a paltry 1.5 per cent a year to the firefighters? You are the Treasurer.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the offer which has been made to firefighters is in line with the offer which has been made to workers in the Chief Minister's Department and accepted by workers in that area. As Treasurer, I am quite happy to support a level of - - -

Mr Berry: Will that put out fires?

MR SPEAKER: I will put somebody out of here very shortly if they continue to interject, Mr Berry.

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