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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 May 2008) . . Page.. 1448 ..

This represents surpluses of around $61 million a year on average—around 1.7 per cent of the annual budget over the forward estimates period.

Modest surpluses, and necessarily so, if we are to invest now in the infrastructure that will boost our economic capacity and help secure our future.

A Strong, Skilled Economy

Mr Speaker, a strong economy is fundamental to maintaining our standard of living, our high levels of employment, our business confidence, our government services and the social cohesion of our community.

A strong economy gives us the capacity to invest in services and facilities for the community. It lets us protect and maintain our cultural, heritage and natural assets as they ought to be protected.

The Territory’s economy has been one of the strongest performing in the country in recent years. In 2006-07, the real increase in Gross State Product per capita, at 3.2 per cent, was almost double the national growth of 1.7 per cent.

In the same year, non-dwelling investment reached a record level.

But Everest has a summit. The sky has a limit. While investment has eased from that unsustainable level, it remains robust.

Investment in dwellings also remains solid, supported by the Government’s accelerated land supply program.

The annual rate of growth in residential building approvals is more than 10 per cent—well above the national average.

Other indicators are equally robust.

Our labour market remains particularly strong. Unemployment is around the lowest ever recorded for any State or Territory. With virtually full employment, the Territory’s economy has been attracting record net interstate migration.

State Final Demand grew by 5.7 per cent in 2006-07. Of course we cannot hope to sustain growth at such levels, and this indicator has eased over the current year, in line with reasonable expectations.

Significantly, however, economic activity has remained at a high level, and is forecast to remain there. This Budget forecasts solid growth in 2008-09 and the forward years.

Mr Speaker, uncertainty and apprehension are natural responses to change. Economies are not immune from apprehension when they witness—or even just anticipate—a change in the activity level of the town’s ‘big factory’, the city’s major employer.

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