Page 44 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 2008

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to commercial construction in the ACT during the construction of the new Parliament House. That level was only met and exceeded last year. That was a level of construction activity unprecedented in the ACT’s history, along with a record level of economic activity, a record level of low unemployment—the lowest unemployment rate in Australia—and the highest participation rate in Australia.

Last year saw the highest level of construction activity in our history, the strongest economic growth we have ever experienced, the highest level of increased commonwealth government employment, and active migration. Last year—2007—was the first year since 1994 that the ACT population rate exceeded the national rate. That was the first time in 14 years that we caught up with and exceeded the national level of population growth.

As a result of the enormous strength of the economy, confidence in the economy, a 14-year high in migration, the lowest unemployment in the nation, the highest participation rate in the nation, buoyant construction and economic activity and the strongest ever economic position we have had as a result of the disciplined economic and fiscal management of this government, there has been enormous demand for housing. It is something, at one level, of course, that we should be inordinately pleased about. But there is, of course, a price to pay, and the price that we have paid has been matching supply with demand for new housing.

The unprecedented strength of the ACT economy, the unprecedented low unemployment, the unprecedented spike in construction activity and the highest level of interstate migration for 14 years are all indicators of which we are enormously proud as a government, but there has been a price to pay, and that has been in the delivery of housing in the ACT.

Rhodium Asset Solutions Ltd

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Chief Minister. During committee hearings of late last year a Rhodium official said “our operating result is clearly impacting on the sale price”. Rhodium operated last financial year at a loss of $442,000 and its total equity decreased from $6.3 million to $5.9 million. Chief Minister, what progress has been made on the sale of Rhodium and has progress been impacted by Rhodium’s poor operating result?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for Molonglo for his question. Mr Mulcahy is of course as aware as anybody in this place of issues in relation to Rhodium and its operations, and indeed, as a result of its performance, decisions in relation to its potential future—management issues that the member is very, very aware of. The government has, as Mr Mulcahy just said and as we all know, resolved on the sale of Rhodium Asset Solutions. That has been a far more complex and involved, and I am happy to say tortuous, process than we imagined at the outset. It has not yet concluded, though my most recent advice is that the Treasury in its consultations and negotiations in relation to the sale of Rhodium remains committed to its sale, and at this stage we have no reason to believe that the sale will not be completed.

It has been difficult; I will not deny that for a minute. The negotiations are difficult and complex and of course they go, I am sure, not just to the performance of Rhodium

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