Page 113 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 14 December 2016

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investments and do not reflect the published headline net operating balance for that time.

The government is not prepared to support a series of statements that are not factually based, or at least are contested in terms of their presentation. They have no context whatsoever in relation to the prevailing economic circumstances. Ultimately, they detract from the amendment that I have moved, which outlines the context of the fiscal trajectory for the territory, the manageability of the territory’s debt, the reasons for the debt increase in recent times—notably associated with the Mr Fluffy clean-up costs—and a decision by government to fund infrastructure. There is a reflection that the fiscal strategy was outlined in the budget six months ago and will be updated in the midyear update early in 2017 and then further presented to the Assembly in the 2017 budget. We will, through the budget review, respond not only to what the commonwealth does next Monday in its midyear update but also use our midyear statement to begin the implementation of a range of government election commitments and parliamentary agreement items and to further outline our fiscal strategy and our agenda to continue to drive the ACT economy through this next phase of economic growth.

I know we will go to this matter more broadly when we debate the next motion, but it is worth reiterating that our economic performance over the last few years has not been by accident; it has come about as a result of good public policy by the territory government in order to keep this economy out of recession and keep employment growth at the strongest possible levels. The result is that unemployment in the ACT is 3.4 per cent. Frankly, to me, that measure is equally as important as what the headline net operating balance is. I would take no pleasure if unemployment was 10 per cent and we were running a surplus. That would demonstrate poor economic management. The lower the unemployment rate, the better the measure of performance of the ACT economy.

For those reasons I urge Assembly members to support my amendment and to oppose both Ms Le Couteur’s amendment and Mr Coe’s original motion.

Ms Le Couteur’s amendment to Mr Barr’s proposed amendment negatived.

Mr Barr’s amendment agreed to.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.42): In closing, Madam Speaker, let me say that we have heard an interesting contribution from the Chief Minister. He now pitches himself as this great progressive reformer, yet in other circles he pitches himself as being this great fiscal conservative who is trying to get the ACT back on the path to surplus.

In actual fact, if you look at the stated fiscal strategy in the budget, it pretty much is everything that I have just said. The difference is they are not actually implementing it. It says:

This budget confirms the Government’s planned path to surplus …

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