Page 1089 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008

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be destroyed if the wrong decisions are made and the regulatory controls are too weak. We have much to lose, as Canadian farmers have testified. I support the bill today.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.31 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Economy—business confidence

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, in answer to a question you were asked on 6 March 2008 about the performance of the ACT economy, you said that the confidence that business has in the ACT economy confirms that the prospects for the ACT economy are extremely good. The latest Hudson report, released last Thursday, found that ACT employer sentiment had fallen by 13.4 percentage points to a four-year low. Chief Minister, how do you explain this decline in employer sentiment?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. The single greatest contributor to that particular fall in sentiment or confidence is the Liberal Party’s interest rate rises.

Mr Seselja: It didn’t come with a change of government.

MR STANHOPE: There is nobody—there is no economic commentator worth a crust—that would argue that the greatest issues facing businesses in Australia today are issues associated with the mismanagement of the economy by John Howard and Peter Costello—the eight successive interest rate rises that have been suffered over the last three years. Ask any economist worth a crust what is the most significant issue affecting confidence in the business community today. It comes straight back to inflation; it comes straight back to interest rate rises; it comes straight back to John Howard and Peter Costello and their legacy to Australia—the Howard-Costello legacy: runaway inflation and multiple serial interest rate rises.

That is the greatest contributor to business confidence and the most significant aspect of what we see reflected. I think that Hudson himself said that. Indeed, Peter Martin and commentators in the Canberra Times acknowledged that businesses—in the ACT most particularly—that have expressed a drop in confidence in the ACT, those businesses that have indicated that they were concerned, attributed that concern directly to the Howard-Costello interest rate rises. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

Whilst there has been a softening in issues around confidence, the ACT labour market remains completely solid. Net employment intentions as reflected by Hudson remain positive. Over one-third of all employers in the most recent Hudson report indicated that they were looking to employ more staff. One-third of those surveyed by Hudson said, “We intend to employ more staff.” Over half of all of the employers reflected in this Hudson report said that they are looking to maintain their existing staff levels. So

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