Page 1065 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 30 March 2011

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national average. With respect to some of the indicators and issues in relation to job ads, vacancies, the fact that there is still pent-up need and demand for jobs reflects a skill shortage in some particular sectors, with job ads in the ACT trending much higher than in the rest of Australia. Indicators in relation to housing finance, most particularly, unsurprisingly, are way above the national average, with housing starts in the last measured quarter I think being in the order of 50 per cent higher than the national average or 50 per cent higher than the next highest jurisdiction in Australia. Indeed, it is the only jurisdiction in Australia to show a significant increase.

The importance of that, of course, is reflected in the snapshot, with the snapshot revealing that whilst there are a number of very large individual projects, led by the new ASIO building—and a fine building, in my estimation—on Constitution Avenue, the new dam, massive investment in health infrastructure, over $400 million of current expenditure in schools, it is underpinned by over $1.2 billion worth of housing-related construction activity, a quite remarkable level of current activity within the housing sector.

To summarise, the snapshot reveals a very strong and healthy ACT economy—in fact, currently the strongest in Australia. All of the indicators reveal that, not just this historically high level of construction activity. What I think is particularly satisfying and pleasing, whilst it cannot be measured exactly, is the level of construction activity in the pipeline anticipated over the next few years.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hargreaves?

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, why do we actually need a snapshot like that?

MR STANHOPE: The snapshot is a—

Mr Coe interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Coe, order! One moment, Chief Minister. Stop the clocks, thank you. Mr Coe, the volume of your interjections is particularly unhelpful. I ask you to constrain yourself.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Canberra construction snapshot is a very important resource. It is an important tool. It is highly regarded and anticipated, most particularly by the development and construction sector here within the ACT. It is looked forward to, it is welcomed, and it is used by the sector in their planning around workforce needs and their capacity to actually manage their workloads and to anticipate future work.

It is in that sense that it has a great utility. It is, as a snapshot, a signal to the industry and to the rest of Australia that the ACT has a strongly performing economy and there are real opportunities here, not just for local companies but for major national and, indeed, latterly, international companies. We are attracting a level of attention from national developers and international consortiums in relation to the opportunities that are represented here within the territory.

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