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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 October 2010) . . Page.. 5019 ..

MS PORTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Treasurer, you mentioned the housing market. Can you advise the Assembly of the state of the ACT housing market?

MS GALLAGHER: The housing market certainly is borne out in the CommSec report. The housing market in the ACT showed incredible resilience through the economic downturn. This was supported by the federal government’s first homeowner boost initiative, alongside a low interest rate environment and against solid population growth. Our population growth in the last quarter has reached a 30-year high. This is driving demand for housing, and we can see that in the figures.

In the June quarter, dwelling commencements in the ACT rose to the highest level in nearly 18 years, with 1,302 commencements. The ACT recorded the largest quarterly and annual growth of jurisdictions, with increases in the order of 66.6 per cent and 62.9 per cent respectively, compared to increases of 0.8 per cent and 25 per cent. Building approvals in the ACT grew by 35.6 per cent year on year, compared to an increase of 29.3 per cent nationally. Year on year, to August 2010, the value of individual investor commitments in the ACT was up 25.8 per cent, the largest increase in the country.

Mr Hanson: How did retail go, Katy? Are you going to get to that?

MS GALLAGHER: Trend residential building approvals decreased in August 2010—I have a feeling I might be getting to retail soon—for the third consecutive month. It remains significantly above the five-year monthly level. So while we are seeing a very strong housing market here in the ACT, and there are no signs of that changing, I think there are risks to our economy. The single biggest risk remains the federal government’s decisions and how they play out in terms of recovering their own budget.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Recognising that it is difficult following along from the dusky Mae West in question time, I would also like to ask the Treasurer if she could possibly give us a commentary on the state of the ACT labour market at the moment.

MS GALLAGHER: I think all members of the Assembly would welcome the unemployment rate, which looks to have peaked at 3.7 per cent in the December 2009 quarter, which is in line with Treasury estimates. Now we have seen several consecutive monthly declines in our unemployment rate. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the country at three per cent. This does come with some challenges, of course. When you have unemployment reaching three per cent, and indeed if it goes any lower, the pressure comes on for skills. But this is the 10th consecutive month where trend employment in the ACT is higher than its level a year ago. Also, for the 12 consecutive months, trend full-time employment is higher than the level a year ago.

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