Page 3587 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 13 September 2017
That is a direct quote from Standard & Poor’s. Our investments and our priorities reflect our community’s progressive values and are delivering inclusive growth. The report from Standard & Poor’s is more irrefutable evidence that the government has insulated the ACT economy from external shocks, diversified our industries and continued to invest in public projects that will ensure that Canberra remains the most livable city that delivers social and economic benefits for all Canberrans.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.18): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion brought forward by Mr Steel today. The motion speaks of the local economy strengthening after a sustained period of economic challenges. Of course, the Canberra Liberals welcome the fact that a number of the recent economic indicators for the ACT are strong. Business indicators in confidence and growth, as well as tourism numbers, are doing well, and I hope that as a jurisdiction we continue to improve on these numbers. The ACT government and the Chief Minister cannot be content with where we are politically because many Canberra businesses are struggling as a direct result of increasing ACT government fees, taxes, charges, rates, duties and other decisions.
For example, local businesses in the suburb of Mitchell are enduring the light rail construction at the moment and many businesses there are doing it very tough particularly because of a lack of access but also because of a number of other issues, especially in the urban services space. As a further blow, even once construction of the tram line is complete, most of these businesses will not have reasonable proximity to a tram stop. In effect, they are getting all the pain but they are not getting any of the gain.
More generally, Labor and the Greens continue to claim that the ACT’s economic position is purely a result of the ACT government’s decisions. The government, particularly the Chief Minister, often use the ACT’s state final demand as a measure of economic success. It is a measure of the total value of goods and services sold in the territory for either consumption or retention as an asset. The driver of the ACT’s state final demand is primarily the commonwealth government. Commonwealth consumption and capital expenditure make up 60 per cent of state final demand in the territory. Even the Chief Minister acknowledges that reality.
What the Chief Minister does not seem to acknowledge is that the commonwealth contribution to state final demand has grown enormously since self-government, from 45 per cent in 1989 to 51 per cent in 2001, when Labor came to power, and then to about 60 per cent by mid-2012, where it remains today. When the idea of a dramatic increase in the commonwealth’s share of state final demand was pointed out to the Chief Minister in estimates, he said he found the suggestion “extraordinary”. He said:
Given that there was virtually nothing here but the commonwealth government at the time of self-government, I find that an extraordinary figure.
The reality is that the Chief Minister’s tenure as Treasurer, since his first budget in 2012, coincides with the largest relative contribution by the commonwealth to state final demand since the ABS data series began in the mid-1980s. It is the