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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 56 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Mr Speaker, while I am on my feet I should say that when I am no longer a member of this Assembly I will look back with great pleasure at the time I spent working on committees. They have universally been rewarding, interesting and educative and I think a benefit to the Assembly as a whole. Those members who are now to move into those committees will have a very fruitful time in front of them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.33 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Economic and social indicators

MR HUMPHRIES: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I ask whether you can confirm to this Assembly that, when the Labor Party came to government early in November, it inherited the following key economic and social positions:

  • a budget surplus of $39 million,
  • an unemployment rate of 4.6 per cent,
  • export activity at an all-time high for ACT businesses,
  • business confidence that was the strongest in Australia, and
  • an education system that has been rated by the OECD at the very top of international achievement.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Humphries, for the question. I acknowledge it as your first question in your new role: congratulations.

Mr Humphries: And your first answer.

MR STANHOPE: It looked and sounded very good from over here.

Certainly, the forward estimates as presented by the previous government prior to the election indicated that the territory was enjoying a surplus of $39 million. As my colleague the Treasurer has indicated on a number of occasions now, as a result of some concerns articulated to us by officials, he has put in place arrangements to undertake an audit of the real bottom-line position of the territory.

I acknowledge, Mr Humphries, that the position that you claimed to have bequeathed to this government was an anticipated surplus of $39 million for this year. Whether or not that reflects the truth of the matter will be determined by the independent audit that the Treasurer has arranged, and about which he will be making some announcements in a short time.

In relation to the suggestion you made that we inherited an ACT unemployment rate of 4.6 per cent, certainly the indicators are that the unemployment position here is 4.6 per cent. However, that does need to be placed in context. The ACT has traditionally had a low unemployment rate. It is 4.6 at the moment, and the indications suggest that this is the lowest in the nation.

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