EMBARGOED: Access Economics and CommSec Reports Mon 23 July 2012 Lara Giddings Premier EMBARGOED UNTIL MONDAY JULY 23RD, 2012. While the economic climate in Tasmania remains challenging, the latest Access Economics Business Outlook and CommSec State and States reports also provide optimism for the future. The Premier, Lara Giddings, said while Access Economics is forecasting Tasmania's economic growth to remain below the national rate, it was predicting further jobs growth, a lower unemployment rate and recovery in retail spending. "Neither of the reports back-up the Liberal's destructive claims that we are in recession," Ms Giddings said. "Indeed Access states that 'there's no need to panic' and the economy is still growing, with a forecast for private commercial construction to grow by 8.5 per cent this year driven by major public works like the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital, the new acute medical unit at Launceston Hospital, the redevelopment of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the new health facility at Glenorchy and the new security block at Risdon Prison. "Similarly CommSec reports that Tasmania's strong levels of private equipment investment could give our economy the spark it needs." Ms Giddings said jobs remain the Government's number one priority. "It is particularly encouraging that we have now secured 1000 jobs at Bell Bay for the long term which provides confidence that we have good foundations to grow from. "The Government has an economic development plan that is enabling us to see the doubling of our dairy and aquaculture industries. "We are seeing record levels of mining exploration at the same time as driving a plan to quadruple our wine industry." Ms Giddings acknowledged that the analysis does show that Tasmania is in the slow lane of the two speed national economy. "It is no surprise that the reports confirm both forestry and manufacturing are struggling in the current economic climate. "Access outlines further evidence of the change occurring in forestry with competitors such as Indonesia taking advantage of the high exchange rate to squeeze Australian forest product suppliers. "Weaker demand nationally for new housing has also reduced the market for structural timber products. "Both of these factors are clear evidence that we cannot do nothing as the Liberals are advocating - we must confront changing market conditions to give Tasmania's forest industry a long term future." Ms Giddings said despite the pressure on traditional sectors of the economy it was important to maintain balance and acknowledge Tasmania's strengths.