Page 67 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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Business confidence

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, my question through you is to Mr Quinlan in his capacity as Minister for Economic Development. I ask if the minister can inform the Assembly of the results of recent business surveys, in particular with regard to surveys on business confidence and export activity in the ACT.

MR QUINLAN: Good news! To commence this Assembly, good news. The latest Sensis Business Index of November 2004 to January 2005 for ACT small and medium enterprises reports that 80 per cent are positive about business prospects for the next 12 months and only five per cent are negative. This is eight percentage points higher than the August survey and, of course, it is higher than the national average.

The Sensis Business Index also shows that ACT small and medium enterprises have the strongest export performance nationally, with 17 per cent of survey respondents exporting last quarter. That is up to four percentage points higher than the last survey and compares favourably with the national figure of 13 per cent. Interestingly, we understand that Austrade’s recent Australian FTA government procedures opportunities seminar had the highest proportional attendance by local businesses in the ACT of any state or territory in Australia. The latest Hudson hiring expectations report, from October to December 2004, shows that 44 per cent of ACT employers are expecting to increase staff, with only about six per cent anticipating a reduction. Again, those figures compare very favourably with the national figure; we lie second only to Queensland in respect of employment prospects. The optimistic outlook by Hudson clients is also supported by the ANZ jobs index, where we remain at historically high levels.

I do expect that from time to time there will be variations in these figures and that, particularly when figures have shown confidence as high as 80 per cent, there will be declines. But, over the last three years, the trend line has been very strong and business confidence and employment expectations within business have been high. That is the important line to look at.

Mr Stanhope: I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper, Mr Speaker.

Leave of absence

Motion (by Mrs Dunne) agreed to:

That leave of absence be given to Mr Pratt for today, 7 December 2004.

Auditor-General’s reports Nos 8, 9 and 10 of 2004

Mr Speaker presented the following papers:

Auditor-General Act, pursuant to subsection 17 (5)—Auditor-General’s Reports—

No 8 2004—Waiting lists for elective surgery and medical treatment, dated 1 December 2004.

No 9 2004—Administration and monitoring of youth service contracts, dated 6 December 2004.

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