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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1747

Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (16:01): I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this matter of public importance discussion about jobs and the economy. After all, it is having a job that provides the opportunity for us to contribute fully to our community and to this great nation; it is what allows us to look forward with hope and to plan for our future and that of our children; and, vitally, it underpins the overarching sense of wellbeing and confidence, confidence that was shattered under the previous government, with 200,000 jobs being lost during the six years that Labor was in power. But Australians understand that there is at last some hope. We are getting back on track after years of Labor's waste and mismanagement.

We have had in Australia a crisis in confidence. It is a crisis that we inherited in September last year and is one that will take time to correct—but correct it we will, because we have a plan. I notice that the Minister for Small Business referred to the nationwide plan. I refer to the Tasmanian economic growth plan, which was an important part of the message that we sold to Tasmanians during the course of the election. They understood that we have a plan.

Sadly, I know all about economic crises, because after 16 years of Labor government in Tasmania, the last four in coalition with the Greens, Tasmania is smack bang in the midst of an economic crisis. I know all about it because I am living it. The Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for Tasmania for January 2014 reveal that Tasmania's unemployment rate trend figure for December and January was 7.6 per cent, compared to the national average of 5.8 per cent. Tragically, the story for young Tasmanians looking for work is disastrous. According to the Brotherhood of St Laurence only two weeks ago, the youth unemployment rate in some parts of my state is as high as 20 per cent—that is, one young person in five in my state actively looking for work is unable to find it. Since 2010, the number of unemployed Tasmanians has risen by nearly 25 per cent, and the state's participation in work rate is at its lowest level since 2005. There are nearly 10,000 fewer Tasmanians in full-time employment, and Tasmania has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Since the Labor-Green government came into office in my home state, Tasmania has run up the biggest deficits in the state's history. The 2010-11 budget announced by Premier Lara Giddings said that in 2013-14 we would run a surplus—rightly so—of $57 million. What was delivered? One of the biggest deficits in the state's history, nearly $360 million. It is just tragic. And that is just my home state. Labor's legacy federally has left 200,000 more Australians unemployed, gross debt is projected to rise to $667 billion and there are $123 billion in cumulative deficits and the world's biggest, job-sapping, carbon tax if we do nothing. We are doing what we said we would do. We are building a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead, abolishing the carbon tax, ending the waste, stopping the boats and building the roads of the 21st century.

The key to boosting annual growth to more than three per cent is what is needed to bring unemployment down. A simple part of that equation is to get rid of the carbon tax. By getting rid of the carbon tax we will get growth in the economy above three per cent. That will deliver the jobs growth that we need in this country. We will do this in a systematic, logical, way by directing our spending to the areas with the highest priority, particularly infrastructure to support the private sector and to support jobs.

The government went to the election with a plan and a commitment to introduce jobs programs. Now, as promised, these programs are being implemented across Australia. In Tasmania with the Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania we have a firm belief that only we can reset the economic course of the state to one of growth, jobs and rising living standards.

At last Australia is open for business. We are under new management. Make no mistake: Australians made a choice in September last year. We are removing restrictions on business and giving Australians a better chance to get a job. We are unshackling the business sector so that it can grow and create jobs. I urge all Tasmanians: on 15 March this year, give the Liberals a chance to deliver the same opportunities for my state. (Time expired)