Page 62 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 February 2018

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Last year over 10,000 new jobs were created in Canberra. This was the strongest year of job creation in a decade. Over 80 per cent of those new jobs were full time, giving Canberra families the stability and security they need to face the new year with optimism.

Importantly, too, the new jobs emerging in our economy have been in a diverse range of sectors, creating opportunities for Canberrans from all backgrounds, not just office workers. Our education and training sector is powering ahead, adding the greatest number of jobs over the last year. It is now, as I have mentioned, our biggest export industry. Accommodation, hospitality and retail have seen similarly strong growth, while our utilities, IT and health care sectors are also expanding. This is a strong and very encouraging indication of increasing diversity in the territory economy as we make Canberra less reliant on the ups and downs of the commonwealth government for our employment base.

Our economy is growing at 4 per cent, 1¼ percentage points stronger than was forecast in the June budget. Almost 7,000 more people now call Canberra home than a year ago, attracted clearly by the bright opportunities that are here and by our world-beating quality of living.

A thriving economy and our steady work on fiscal consolidation have seen the territory’s budget position strengthen too. I am pleased to announce we have more than halved the deficit for 2017-18 compared with the budget forecast and we will deliver a balanced budget and then stronger surpluses over the forward estimates period.

Members in this place will know what a big turnaround this is from the 2014 budget, when the Mr Fluffy response, combined with the deep cuts of the Abbott federal Liberal government, took effect. Ever since then, the government has worked steadily and carefully to return the budget to balance. Today’s update confirms, I think for the sixth consecutive budget update, that this plan is very much on track. Certainly we will return to balance and surplus well ahead of the commonwealth.

Canberra is a growing city. As we grow we need to invest in services, in infrastructure and in the community facilities that Canberrans need and rely on. This city is amongst the best places in the world to visit in 2018, and indeed in each and every year, and we must keep investing to ensure that it remains the best place in Australia to live, to work and to raise a family. That is what we are doing through this budget update. We are taking the opportunity presented by a stronger fiscal position to make a series of priority investments in our city’s frontline services.

That means more elective surgeries this year, cutting waiting times to get more Canberrans back to health sooner. It means investing in more paramedics to join Australia’s fastest responding crew, delivering on our election commitment, and also bringing on additional staff to help meet demand pressures across the service. It means more investment in our courts and community safety to ensure that the justice system continues to work effectively and efficiently while respecting people’s rights.

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