TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is directed to the Treasurer, John
Lenders. Can the Treasurer update the house on current employment figures in
LENDERS (Treasurer) — I thank Ms Tierney for her question and for her
positive interest in jobs in Victoria and in her electorate, particularly in the
great city of Geelong, which she takes such pride in.
We have had a big debate in Australia of late over how the
country is dealing with the global financial crisis, and we have also had quite
a debate over employment figures. I would be the first to say you should never
pay a lot of attention to a single month’s figures other than as an indication
of a trend showing where things are going forward.
In the eight months of this year we have seen the ABS
(Australian Bureau of Statistics) figures bounce around from month to month and
we have the total figures for this calendar year to date showing a net 12 200
extra jobs in the state of Victoria.
As part of a global financial crisis where international trade
is suppressed, Australian exports are suppressed and Australian imports are also
suppressed and where there has been a capital shortage across the world, there
has been a contraction of economies. We have forecast in our budget papers an
increase in unemployment and the commonwealth has forecast in its budget papers
an even stronger increase in unemployment. What we are seeing to date is that it
is a far more measured slowdown than we anticipated in the budget, and part of
that unquestionably is because of the business confidence in Victoria instilled
by a government that is confident about the state.
Members of the opposition are not interested in business
confidence at all but would prefer to talk down the state and the economy to
score cheap political points rather than encouraging jobs to go forward.
The final figures that came out the other day are an
interesting example of how you actually measure figures. We had a rise in
unemployment in Victoria as a percentage of those seeking employment, but we had
an increase of 5300 actual jobs in the state of Victoria. Again these are
monthly figures, and you should not pay too much attention to monthly figures,
but it shows a greater degree of confidence in Victoria than anywhere else in
Australia that our workforce participation went up whereas in the country as a
whole it contracted.
What I say to Ms Tierney is that this government will not rest
in its efforts to create and secure more jobs in this state. The budget alone
secured 35 000 jobs in this state. Members of the opposition are critical.
They will have a string of shadow ministers going out there
saying we should be doing more in infrastructure but we should also spend less.
They go out there and criticise almost every project and try to slow it down.
These are the people who opposed channel deepening; these are the people who
oppose almost every single construction project that creates jobs in Victoria,
but they seek more.
What we are seeing is that there is a lot more to be done. Ms
Tierney well knows that in her region there are a lot of businesses and workers
who are doing it hard, but governments need to stand shoulder to shoulder with
them at a time of global financial crisis to assist in delivering jobs. We are
seeing Victoria performing better than other states in Australia. There is more
to be done, and we are there with our community getting it done.