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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 October 2009) . . Page.. 4349 ..

very swift action to cushion the national economy from the effects of the downturn through their very significant stimulus payment.

Despite the negative impacts of the global financial climate, the ACT economy, as measured by state final demand, managed to grow in 2008-09, increasing by 0.3 of a per cent. This is low and is well below the long-run average. It came off strong double digit growth, more than 10 per cent, back in 2006-07, and should be seen in the context of previous high interest rates and consumer prices in 2007-08, and of course the GFC in 2008-09.

The fundamentals of our economy were strong at the time of the emergence of the global financial crisis. We had close to full employment. We had very strong participation in the workforce and a very highly educated population. The federal government’s stimulus measures, and in some part our own local initiatives, have supported the local economy during this difficult period.

Recent economic indicators in general suggest that the ACT economy is stabilising and performing quite well. We have record unemployment and the second highest participation rate in the country. In the latest figures, in September 2009, we had an unemployment rate of 3½ per cent. The ANZ newspaper job ads for the ACT indicate that the weekly average trend number of newspaper job ads in the ACT recorded its third consecutive monthly increase in September 2009. Annual population growth strengthened further to 1.8 per cent in the March quarter, mainly due to natural increase and net overseas migration. Stronger population growth in the territory should support household consumption as well as underlying demand for residential property.

Apart from the improvements that we have seen in the housing and labour markets, there is evidence that confidence, particularly amongst consumers, is also improving. Household consumption in the ACT has shown resilience so far in face of the downturn and has contributed positively to economic growth.

There was some softening in retail turnover around the middle of 2009, but retail turnover in seasonally adjusted terms in the ACT rebounded in August 2009 following two consecutive monthly falls.

In construction, private dwelling construction growth in the ACT rebounded in 2008-09, reflecting initiatives to stimulate first home buyer activity, the low official interest rate and a gradual improvement in confidence and increased land supply. Private non-dwelling construction remained at a relatively high level in the ACT in 2008-09, despite decreasing from the very high level in 2006-07.

The credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s recently affirmed the ACT’s AAA long-term credit rating and noted that the territory’s long-term growth prospects are steady. The government is very pleased with this affirmation, as well as Standard & Poor’s assessment of the territory’s economic outlook. However, we are still well aware of the challenges and the risks that lie ahead.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary question?

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