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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 March 2015) . . Page.. 720 ..

MADAM SPEAKER: I was contemplating that, perhaps in anticipation that someone might take a point of order. Although the form and practice of this place is that we refer to people by their titles, and I think the general form and practice should be that we refer to members of other parliaments by their title, there is no hard and fast rule. But I think it would be befitting if we were respectful. I cannot say that Mr Barr’s language was unparliamentary, but it is not the sort of form and practice that we follow in this place, and I would like members to keep that in mind when they are referring to members of other parliaments. A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how has diversifying the ACT economy helped Canberra through this period of savage commonwealth job cuts?

MR BARR: A comparison of the territory’s economic performance during two distinct periods of Liberal federal government cuts to Canberra certainly illustrates the benefits of diversifying our economy. In the mid 1990s, when the Howard Liberal government started slashing jobs here in Canberra, in the first year the number of unemployed people jumped by 3,000, the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points and within a 12-month period total employment had dropped by 5½ thousand. This time around, our economy has continued to perform well, given the federal Liberal job cuts. A clear indication is that our economic development approach is indeed paying dividends. So we are unequivocally a much more diverse and resilient economy in 2015 than we were in 1996.

We are working with the private sector in Canberra to shore up our economy to weather the Abbott Liberal government’s cuts. Without diversification of our economy, without a stronger and more vibrant private sector, the thousands of jobs cut by Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, would have a far greater impact on our economy and our community. Our city would be a very different place right now if it were not for the increased economic diversification that this government has been driving.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, can you tell us more about why economic diversification is so important for our community?

MR BARR: Certainly it is supporting jobs and continued economic growth in our economy. It is supporting the range of goals that this government has for a more inclusive society, one in which people who want to work have the opportunity to work and one where people’s aspirations around education outcomes, around their own ability to contribute to our community are supported. A more diverse economy assists us to respond to external shocks, whether they are the all too frequent external shocks of Liberal governments at the national level or, indeed, external shocks that the global economy experiences from time to time.

The territory government will continue our focus on the range of economic development programs that we have outlined today and the range of legislative reforms that will encourage more growth in key sectors of the territory economy.

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