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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) insurgents.

The number of jobs

advertised has fallen for the

first time in three months.

Economists say the 1.7% drop in

Australian economy is still October indicates the

prone to setbacks. For more

assistant Treasurer Senator

the studio. Good Nick Sherry joins us now from

the studio. Good morning. Good

morning. How do you explain

that fall in job ads? I don't

think it's unexpected, frankly.

We do know despite the various

actions of the government in

terms of stimulus package,

which have helped cushion the

economy from the worst impacts

internationally, and that has

consequently saved 200,000 jobs

in Australia, we do know that unemployment will still go unemployment will still go up

for the next year and a further

100,000 jobs will be lost. So I

just think it's a sobering

reminder that some people

who've been doing victory laps

as the Treasurer said could

take a bit of a cold shower.

There are still significant

challenges ahead for the

Australian and world

economies. There was a revision

down in the expected number of

unemployed in the mid year rise economic forecast. Could it

rise above that again now? No,

I don't believe so. The

forecasts were dropped from

8.5% to 6.75%, which largely

reflects the impact of that

stimulus package in cushioning

us against - but if you look at

what's happening in the rest of

the world. Look at the US figures. Yesterday double digit

conversations with the unemployment. I know from

Treasurer who was with the G20 Treasurer who was with the G20

at the weekend and my own

conversations with other

finance leaders at the IMF and

World Bank, there's still a lot

of concern in other comparable advanced economies about the

pace and the level of recovery.

So as I say, despite the fact

that Australia's done

comparatively very well

compared to other economies,

that stimulus package has been

vital in putting a cushion on

unemployment. You're a plain

speaker. You're not a fan of

weasel words. And as someone

who knows you as that, I do

wonder why you think we're

going to accept what seems to me a very convenient argument

that your stimulus package has

saved jobs and cushioned jobs

but when we lose jobs it's still not the government's

fault. You see what I mean? It's terribly convenient and

leaves the viewers nowhere to

go. There is no doubt the

stimulus package has saved

jobs. It's saved 200,000

jobs. But then when you lose jobs, that's just how it

goes. We've always been open an

frank with the Australian

people. We haven't said we can

totally isolate and make immune

the Australian economy from the

dreadful impacts that are occurring elsewhere. We've

always said that the stimulus

package would cushion the

Australian economy, would save jobs and in this case jobs and in this case 200,000

jobs. But we've always said

that that impact of the world

recession ... You see what I

mean. It's not your responsibility. One is your responsibility, but these job

losses are not ours. We have

taken responsibility, with due respect. The government has

acted decisively to put a

cushion on these impacts but

we've still said very frankly we can't isolate the Australian economy totally, that unemployment will go up, because we are because we are still impacted

by these world circumstances. Just turning to another issue, there are

reports this morning the Rudd

Government has spent $454

million on consultants last

financial year. That's an

increase of 5.5%. You vowed to

slash $400 million in wasteful

spending on consultants before

the last election. What makes

it OK now? If you look at the

circumstances of the last year, and certainly a significant circumstances of the last year,

proportion of the expenditures

on consultancies has been

around much of the economic

forecasting work with the ETS

and also I know personally in

the sense of much of the work

done in response to the global

financial economic crisis. Also

I know from my direct

responsibilities the Australian

Tax Office is undergoing the

most significant overhaul of

its entire computer system,

which has absolute I had

massive costs in it. So they're

issues we've had to deal with. You make these vows and

then they're broken. They're

issues I've highlighted we've

had to deal with. In terms of

the precise figures, I will

have a hard look at them. I

notice Lindsay Tanner in the

Finance Ministry, his figures

for consultancies actually went

down. But we will be keeping a

close eye on consultants. We

only spend money in those areas

where it's absolutely necessary

. Australians have among the

fastest rising food prices of

major developed nations we

learned from the OECD data

that's just been released. How

do you account for that and what will you do what will you do to bring those

prices down? A big factor is

lack of effective competition.

There are a number of changes

we're making. Firstly the

ACCC's negotiated the end of exclusive leases, which will encourage more competition.

Secondly, we've extended

foreign investment provisions

so that if competitors want so that if competitors want to

come into Australia and they

are, they have five years

rather than one year. But the fird factor which is fantastic

and I know 'cause I've used it

and talked about it with people

in the supermarket is unit

pricing. You can actually

compare the unit price again. I

was chatting to people on the

weekend when I was shopping

about comparing prices. But

certainly more needs to be

done. I wanted to ask you, in the news we've been hearing in

the last week or so about the

challenges facing Treasurer Ken

Foley in South Australia and he

has spoken about his depression

and that he's not going to take

time away, he will stay in his

position and battle through.

You've had a very

well-publicised battle with

depression yourself. Is it wise

to stay in such a high-profile

public job while you're trying

to deal with that? All

circumstances can be quite

different. I think the important thing is you take

some medical advice. Some people may need to take some

time off from work. There has

been another recent event of a

frontbencher who has taken some

time off to recuperate and to

take some medical treatment. So

each circumstance differs.

Whether it's a high profile job

or not, frankly, I don't think

should make any difference. You

take the medical advice, you do

what they advise. As I've said,

before recovery is always a

very good possibility. I don't

see why people if they're receiving treatment should

necessarily have to stop work,

but if the medical advice is

you should take a break, then

you should do that. And you can

get through this? Yes, you can. No doubt about that.

There's no reason why

individuals who experience some

tough mental periods in their

life through depression, they

can recover, and there are many

examples of that. Good to see