Page 286 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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DR BOURKE: My question is to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer outline what the government is doing to protect and help create jobs in both the public and private sectors in the territory?

MR BARR: I thank Dr Bourke for his question. The government certainly understands the importance of ensuring that our economy continues to grow and that it continues to prosper, and we recognise the particular importance of ensuring that we are protecting and creating jobs in our city. Since we have been elected we have worked hard to create local jobs, and it has paid off. Canberrans enjoy the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4.1 per cent and in October of this year 208,200 Canberrans were in work, which is a new record for people in employment in our city.

Our near-$800 million infrastructure program is building facilities across the territory that are not only creating thousands of construction jobs but also bringing health and education jobs into various parts of the city as new schools and health facilities are built.

Our cut to payroll tax has seen private businesses able to employ more people before hitting the payroll tax threshold. As I have mentioned before, we now have the most competitive payroll tax regime in the country for small and medium sized businesses. In fact it is the most competitive payroll tax system for businesses up to a payroll of $4.7 million.

We cannot take the current situation for granted, though. The government knows that we must continue to support and boost growth, innovation and investment right across the territory. We will continue to enhance services to the community and support jobs in priority growth areas, particularly in health. We will not slash and burn the public service as we return the budget to surplus. In fact we will grow the overall number of public servants in line with an increase in the services that we deliver to the community.

The government also remains committed to creating a great environment for private investment and for that investment to generate more jobs, and it will continue to invest in public infrastructure projects, supporting the jobs of the nearly 16,000 Canberrans who work in the construction industry. We will continue to support apprentices through funding for the CIT and other vocational education programs. It is the same CIT, I would note, that the Canberra Liberals left out when creating their education and training policy.

We will continue to take an active role in providing the right policy settings and providing the right tax reforms to ensure that small and medium sized businesses are able to grow over the next four years.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

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