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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2857

Ms BURKE (Chisholm) (19:50):    I rise to draw attention to the increasing rate of unemployment in my electorate of Chisholm, which has seen a dramatic rise in joblessness over the last 12 months, something I have not seen in my time in this parliament, which is coming up to almost 17 years.

The release of the Small area labour markets report for the September quarter shows a sharp rise of unemployment in the suburbs of Burwood, Box Hill, Box Hill North and Blackburn South in my electorate. All suburbs, which have traditionally enjoyed high levels of employment, are now all markedly above the national average unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent.

Burwood is now at 10.2 per cent unemployment, up from 7.4 per cent a year ago; Box Hill is also at 10.2 per cent, up 2.9 per cent from a year ago; Box Hill North is at 8.6 per cent, an increase of 2.4 per cent; and Blackburn South is only slightly better, at 7.8 per cent, which is still a two per cent rise since 2013. As I have said, these are the highest rates I have ever seen in my time in this parliament.

It is quite obvious that over the course of the first year of the Abbott government and coming off the back of four years of a state Liberal government, which cut services and funding to health and hospital jobs in these suburbs, these suburbs have taken a battering. In all these suburbs, workers are predominately professionals, clerical and administrative workers, managers and technicians, and they predominantly work in school education, tertiary education, scientific research and our hospitals. These are areas which are extremely sensitive to government cuts. They are areas which have both been subject to savage cuts and funding uncertainty at the hands of the former Liberal government and a horrendous, unfair budget produced by the worst Treasurer in Australia's history.

In government, the Baillieu-Napthine government cut $826 million from Victorian hospitals and, in the Treasurer's horror budget, those opposite have cut a further $277 million from our hospitals. In my electorate there are two of the largest hospitals in Victoria—indeed, in Australia—Monash Medical Centre at Clayton and Box Hill Hospital in Box Hill. Both have undergone major refurbishments and rebuilds in the last few, and I want to thank all levels of government for supporting those. But what we have seen, even though we have now got substantially larger hospitals servicing large demographics—not just my electorate but huge catchment areas are coming into them; indeed, people from interstate travel to these hospitals—is massive job cuts. So whilst I have got a state-of-the-art hospital in Box Hill, there are actually floors of wards of beds that are currently empty. It is a Yes Minister experience because they cannot staff them. They are not open. They look beautiful, but they are not open.

These cuts not only dramatically disadvantage patients, they are also putting people out of work. These are people with mortgages, people with bills to pay and children to educate. My electorate is a very expensive place to live. You do not buy a house for under $1 million in my electorate. These people are relying on hefty salaries and amounts of money just to survive, day-in day-out. The Victorian Liberals cut $600 million from Victoria's schools. They cut $300 million from TAFE, and the Abbott government has ripped away all the funding from years 5 and 6 of the Gonski reforms, denying $7 billion to schools across the country, having a devastating impact upon my electorate, which is home to Box Hill TAFE, a world renowned, leading institution. It has seen jobs lost and cuts to services and reduction in courses. This has an absolute ripple effect, not only to those people in the jobs but to the ability to educate future generations. Again, in my electorate, Deakin University and Monash University have enormous amounts of students and enormous amounts of staff and one of the largest CSIRO premises, in Clayton in my electorate, where we have seen massive job losses. Not only have people lost their jobs but, again, skills and training for the future are gone.

These decisions are harming our schools. They are harming our hospitals. They are killing jobs and they are destroying our future prospects. I am deeply concerned that this government has no plan to stem the losses. Indeed, we saw that one of issues that turfed the Baillieu-Napthine Liberal government out of Victoria was that there was no plan for jobs and no plan for job creation. What happens when the car industry shuts down in Victoria? There is nothing on the horizon, and we will see from the next budget more unfair cuts, less money invested in critical services and more jobs losses in my electorate and other communities.