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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 December 2016) . . Page.. 46 ..

Another important indicator of economic health is retail trade. Our retail trade growth, at 8.3 per cent, was the highest in the country in the past 12 months. Residential building approvals are up 97 per cent over the past year, and our economy continues to diversify. Service exports increased by 13.1 per cent. That is stronger than the rest of the nation. Education exports are now worth over half a billion dollars annually to the territory economy. Technical, trade-related and other business services grew by a strong 40 per cent over the course of 2015-16. So it has been a very strong year for the territory economy, and we look forward to building on that in 2017.

MS CHEYNE: Can the Treasurer outline to the Assembly how that ongoing strength is assisted by the government’s strategy to diversify the economy?

MR BARR: We will be continuing to focus on broadening the territory’s economic base, focusing on our innovation and knowledge-based industries. This is paying huge dividends, as we have seen in the figures in the past 12 months. Canberra’s connectivity internationally—now with the direct flights to Singapore and Wellington, and in the not too distant future to Doha—adds significantly to our trade capacity.

Domestically we are seeing additional routes established with low cost airlines entering into our market flying initially between Canberra and Melbourne, and we of course welcome the connection to Dubbo as part of our broader regional aviation network.

The establishment of the CBR Innovation Network is also paying dividends. We continue to support the growth of our service export sectors. This is fundamental to our city’s future. No city of 400.000 people is going to grow rich by selling to ourselves. We must be more nationally and internationally focused, and the government continues to pursue this agenda rigorously.

MR STEEL: Treasurer, are there alternative courses of action the government could take?

MR BARR: Yes, the government could pursue a surplus fetish at all costs. We could seek to contract the ACT government’s involvement in economic activity in the territory. We could.

Mr Hanson: Surpluses are to be avoided at all costs, aren’t they, Mr Barr.

MR BARR: We have got a response from the former leader of the opposition. It is just the fact that we had an intervention like that that explains why he is a former Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, can you allow the Treasurer to answer.

MR BARR: It is good to see this—

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