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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 486 ..

MR SPEAKER: Sit down. There is no point of order.

MR SMYTH: Again, what do other experts, apart from Mr Williams, say? The ABS says our employment rate is still the lowest in the country and at one of the lowest levels the ACT has ever experienced, at 4.8 per cent.

Mr Stanhope: It always has been.

MR SMYTH: It wasn't under you lot. The Chamber of Commerce business confidence survey showed employment levels remaining high, with almost 30 per cent of business putting on new staff in the November quarter and 23 per cent expecting to do so in the following quarter. The Morgan and Banks job index shows that a net 35.8 per cent of employers intend to increase staff-a record high for the ACT and well up on the 29.1 per cent recorded in the previous survey. It is the highest percentage of all states and territories and also above the national average of 29.8 per cent. The Australian executive job market expanded by 19 per cent in the two months of December and January, according to the EL index. Executive Leasing Australia, the company that compiles the data, highlighted that the ACT was experiencing a rise in private sector demand.

But we cannot realistically expect this to continue. The economy is showing signs of slowing, as we would expect, and, with that, job growth will not be as significant. The unemployment rate is no longer at the record low of 4.5 per cent.

The Yellow Pages business index showed that 11 per cent of businesses expected to increase their work force size, while the ANZ job advertisements series predicts that its record highs in the number of job ads will also fall. Their latest figures showed that, in trend terms, it was still a very good story, however, with latest job ads in January 2000 in the ACT unchanged at 559, up 7.5 per cent on the same time last year.

Mr Williams and Labor are wrong. We still have it pretty good. I am not saying that business is going great guns and is without hard times, but the majority certainly are. It is a bit rich for the Labor Party to think they can hoodwink Canberrans into believing that this is a recession. Canberrans know what a recession is. They know how tough it can get. They have spent the past decade slogging it out to recover from the real one that Labor told us we had to have. So I call on Mr Stanhope to stop treating the electorate with such contempt and take responsibility and be accountable for his candidates, representatives of Labor Party and its leader, as they are Labor's endorsement of people Canberrans should vote into government.

Payroll advertising-Australian Nursing Federation

MR BERRY: My question is to the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister yesterday in the Assembly supported a motion rejecting the government's refusal to allow the ANF to advertise in ACT government pay slips. I should draw to the Assembly's attention that the union is in a flexible mood in relation to this matter. It has addressed the issue which seemed to cause Mr Humphries so much concern, and they have agreed to withdraw from their ad or, alternatively, making a contribution to our campaign. They were troubled that he was so unsettled by contentious remarks that they decided to withdraw them. In today's Canberra Times the minister's office is quoted as saying:

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