Page 5538 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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Mr Hargreaves: On the point of order, the question was quite specifically around Ms Le Couteur’s submission.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, members. I think the question is out of order. It relates to the contents of Ms Le Couteur’s submission, and it is not the Chief Minister’s responsibility to comment on that in the context of her ministerial responsibilities.

Economy—impact on business and families

DR BOURKE: My question is to Mr Barr. Can the minister—

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! I cannot hear Dr Bourke. Can you start again, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Of course. Minister Barr, can you please provide an update as to how the ACT’s strong economy is impacting on businesses and families?

MR BARR: I can indicate that the government is committed to maintaining a strong economy and a balanced budget over the economic cycle. An important part of achieving this balance is maintaining fiscal discipline and a sound revenue and expenditure policy about targeting scarce resources to areas where they can achieve the most good for the community.

The government has a strong record when it comes to economic management and fiscal discipline. Some would say that we have been a model of countercyclical fiscal policy in recent times, showing expenditure restraint, delivering strong budget surpluses in good times and providing stimulatory responses in more challenging economic periods. We have invested in productive infrastructure to grow the economy. This is important not just in a theoretical economic sense but because it has a real impact on the lives of Canberrans. A strong economy means more people in jobs, and in more secure jobs.

The recent ABS labour force statistics show that we continue to have very low unemployment—the lowest trend unemployment in the country. These statistics also show that we continue to have a very high labour force participation rate. And, importantly, they show that the labour force grew whilst at the same time the number of unemployed fell. A large labour force and lower unemployment mean more people in jobs, and this is great news for Canberra.

I can advise that ABS statistics released today show that the ACT’s trend average weekly ordinary time earnings increased by 1.4 per cent in the most recent quarter. This means that we now have more people in jobs, and those people are enjoying higher wages. A strong economy means more money flowing through it—and through to our businesses, assisting them with their trading margins.

ASIC data indicates that the number of registered companies in the territory has risen over the last five years, from 26,000 in 2006 to 31,000 in 2011. It might interest members to know that, despite our very high growth of small businesses in the ACT,

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