Page 775 - Week 02 - Thursday, 12 February 2009

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release of the commonwealth’s updates and further interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank, our budget has been further impacted by these unprecedented external factors. We will now be looking at deficits this year and moving forward over the budget cycle.

The changes that continue to impact on our operating position largely relate to lower than expected revenues and can be summarised as a result of four main effects. Firstly, there will be lower than expected GST revenues. The commonwealth government has once again revised its GST pool estimates down as a direct result of a slowdown in national consumer and business spending. Secondly, further declines in financial markets have substantially impacted on our investment returns, including superannuation and other investments. Thirdly, lower interest rates resulting from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monetary policy setting have significantly impacted our earnings on cash balances. Lastly, these external factors are directly impacting on our local economic activity. This will mean that our taxation revenue lines, such as conveyancing duties, are under pressure.

Notwithstanding these difficult conditions, the ACT economy is relatively better placed than other jurisdictions and the recently released $42 billion nation building and jobs plan will benefit the territory’s economy. To ensure that the ACT government meets the challenges of delivering the nation building and jobs plan we have moved quickly to appoint a coordinator-general and a senior team of public servants. We know what work needs to be done and we are committed to delivering to the community both the plan and our own continuing significant capital works program.

I also made the point at the time of releasing the midyear review that we will not act with knee-jerk reactions. Times are tough and appropriate policy responses will be considered through the 2009, 2010 and following budgets. We have also been busy over the last months putting together the final details of a local initiatives package supported by a third appropriation bill.

The bill, to be introduced on 24 February, will focus on a moderate package of minor new works that can be quickly implemented over the remainder of this financial year. The package will have an immediate effect on industry in a meaningful way and is targeted at supporting or enhancing government service delivery and the quality of our own assets. The package will complement the commonwealth’s nation building and jobs plan by providing certainty of future activity, supporting jobs locally and boosting industry confidence.

I look forward to working with the Assembly through these difficult times to support jobs and protect the territory’s economy. I commend the 2008-09 budget midyear review to the Assembly.

Embryo Research Licensing Committee—report

Paper and statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

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