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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2179


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (14:11): My question is to the Prime Minister. How is the government delivering opportunity and supporting jobs by putting the interests of Australian workers first?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:11): I thank the member for Robertson for her question, and I know that she, unlike those opposite whose performance we have just seen, is genuinely concerned about the strength of our economy and the jobs and opportunities it offers working people and their families.

Today we can say that, since this government came to office, we have created 926,000 jobs—that is, the unemployment figures which have come out today show the unemployment rate has remained at 5.4 per cent. What that means is we have seen an increase in the number of jobs of 71,500 in the last month. For the information of the House, this is the largest monthly increase in jobs since July 2000.

Ms Macklin interjecting

Ms GILLARD: Yes, they are very quiet over there—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs!

Ms GILLARD: because Australians getting the opportunities and benefits of work is not something that the opposition likes to hear. This is the best monthly job creation result in 13 years. And to give this some perspective: the US economy created 236,000 jobs in February. What that means is that an economy 15 times bigger than ours is creating jobs at three times the rate—15 times bigger and their job creation is only three times bigger than ours. That tells you about the resilience of the Australian economy, and we should be proud of it as a nation.

But, of course, even with Australians getting the benefits of work, our economic future as a nation is not assured. We have to be making the right decisions now for our country's future. And today I had the opportunity to reinforce that, when we talk about the benefits of work, we also talk about the dignity and fairness that comes with work—making sure that people get treated fairly at work. We know that there are many Australians who are very reliant on the penalty rates they receive in their pay packets for making ends meet. So today I have announced that there will be a new modern awards objective in the Fair Work Act to protect penalty rates, because we understand how important they are. We will always put the jobs of Australians first, we will always protect the working conditions of Australians—and today is a very good day, as we get the news that more Australians have got the benefits of work.