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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2254 ..

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Wall for his supplementary question and I will take it on notice.

Government—economic management

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, the most recent Deloitte Access business outlook report described the ACT economy as being in “a sweet spot”. What actions has the ACT government taken that have led to these findings?

MR BARR: Deloitte has rightly drawn attention to the strength of the ACT economy. Our very strong construction activity across residential, commercial and engineering construction has been highlighted in their report. Their analysis points to double-digit growth in housing construction over the past year, $1.5 billion worth of commercial construction projects underway, and an exceptionally strong civil works pipeline for the coming few years as the light rail project continues to progress.

They have also pointed to the strength of our labour force, with job vacancies up more than 16 per cent over the past year, which is well above the national result. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that average unemployment through the year to June is significantly lower than it was at the same time last year. It is also worth noting that when it comes to finding a new job, Canberra now has the shortest median duration of job search of any Australian capital city apart from Darwin.

State final demand is up five per cent through the year, which is the second highest growth rate of any Australian jurisdiction. We are continuing to see strong growth in demand across all the sectors that drive the territory economy: private consumption, private investment, commonwealth spending and ACT government activity.

The fiscal strategy that the government has adopted in past budgets, and again in 2017, has played an important role in helping the territory’s economy to reach this “sweet spot”. Our own investments in infrastructure, in economic diversification and in backing local jobs kept Canberra out of recession during the Abbott years and have created a strong foundation for the nation-leading growth that we are seeing at this point.

MR PETTERSSON: Chief Minister, how are retail trade and small business confidence tracking, and what does this say about the broader ACT economy?

MR BARR: Confidence amongst the territory’s 26,000 businesses is currently the highest in the country and, in fact, is at a seven-year high. Confident businesses are ones that invest and employ more, so this points to a very positive future for our city’s economy.

Part of this confidence no doubt comes from the fact that retail trade continues to grow well above the national average, increasing by 5.7 per cent over the past year. Given the levels of wage growth, that is a remarkable outcome for this territory. Canberrans are feeling optimistic enough about their own prospects and family

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