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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Majority Government Vital For Continued Growth - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Majority Government Vital For Continued Growth - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings said the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry had correctly identified that stable, majority Government was vital for the State’s continued growth in its latest Survey of Business Expectations report.

“Look at the enormous economic and social progress that’s been made in Tasmania over the last eight years and compare it to the drift and stagnation that occurred under the minority Liberal government from 1996-98,” Ms Giddings said.

“Minority government has a history of seeing confidence shrink, investment dry-up and unemployment rise.

“Nobody wants to go back to the dark old days when Tasmania was widely considered to be closed for business and Australia’s ‘rust-belt state’.

“The Tasmania we live in today has undergone a remarkable transformation.

“We have Australia’s fastest-growing economy for the first time ever and Tasmanians are feeling good about themselves.

“The TCCI has correctly identified that a hung parliament would be a disaster for Tasmania.

“The State Labor Government is confident that Tasmanians will not be prepared to put our progress at risk.

“Every single poll indicates that only Labor is capable of securing a majority at this year’s election and we will put forward a strong record of achievement for voters to consider.”

Ms Giddings said the latest TCCI report found that around 65 per cent of Tasmanian businesses surveyed expected economic conditions to remain strong or improve moderately over the next 12 months.

The Minister said it was clear that business also had positive expectations for the 2006 March quarter and that the December quarter had seen strong growth, including:

· General business conditions up 15.4 per cent;

· Total sales/revenue up 18.9 per cent;

· Average selling prices up 17.5 per cent;

· Profitability up five per cent;

· Employment levels up 13.5 per cent; and

· Capital expenditure on plant and equipment up 20.9 per cent.

“In earlier surveys, Tasmanian business was highly optimistic, based on expectations formed when the level of economic activity was much lower than it is currently,” she said.

“It’s unrealistic to expect businesses to continually expect even stronger economic conditions after Tasmania has experienced strong growth and reached very high levels of economic activity over recent times.

“The latest TCCI survey shows that the majority of businesses in Tasmania are upbeat about the future, which can only be good news for continued growth.”

Ms Giddings said the State Labor Government would continue working to attract sensible development, added investment and more new jobs.

“Already this week, we’ve seen Access Economics admit they’ve been too harsh on Tasmania in the past,” the Minister said.

“The TCCI survey provides further reason to believe our economy will continue to grow strongly under a stable, majority Labor Government.

“We recognise that the number one constraint on growth is the lack of availability of suitably-qualified workers.

“That’s why we have provided $40 million over consecutive State Budgets to address this problem – and we will continue working with industry to overcome it.”

Ms Giddings said it was interesting to note that compliance with existing industrial relations legislation was not even among the top 10 constraints on growth listed by Tasmanian business.

“This provides further proof that the Howard Government is pursuing an ideological agenda that doesn’t have strong support in the Tasmanian business community.

“The Commonwealth Government would do far better to work with the State Government and provide more resources to address the skills shortage than to embark on a campaign of ruthlessly slashing the entitlements of the most vulnerable workers in our community.”



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