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Job ads slump as stimulus payments start to f -

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Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: As millions of Australians start receiving their stimulus payment this week, the
Federal Government and Opposition are locked in a war of words, on how best to stem those job

The Government's latest effort is a $650-million jobs compact.

While much of it is yet to be fleshed out, there are more dark clouds on the economic horizon.

The latest ANZ Bank jobs survey shows another steep decline employment ads... and that's prompted the
bank to revise up its unemployment forecast -- to more than eight per cent next year.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Tax Office is preparing to send out the latest $900 economic stimulus payment.

More than seven million Australians will receive the money from Wednesday, part of the Government's
plan to soften the blow of the global recession and job losses.

WAYNE SWAN: The tax bonus will play a very important and vital role.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Treasurer Wayne Swan says the savage contractions in employment in overseas
economies, for example in the retail sector, are not being seen in Australia because of the direct
stimulus payments.

WAYNE SWAN: Well what we're doing with the tax bonus is filling a gap between now and when the
direct investment really flows into schools and housing, and energy efficiency.

You see it takes a bit of time to organise that direct investment. That is beginning to flow
through. And that will flow through the rest of this year and into next year.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And while not predicting what the Reserve Bank may do on interest rates tomorrow,
the Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner says there's still some room to move.

LINDSAY TANNER: But they have already come down 400 basis points, so that's a very substantial drop
and we've now got a very large amount of stimulus flowing into the Australian economy through the
reduction in interest rates and the Government's fiscal packages.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The jobs picture will become clearer with the release later this week of new
unemployment figures. The latest indicator, today's ANZ Bank survey, shows jobs ads fell 8.5 per
cent last month, down nearly 45 per cent from a year ago.

That's prompted ANZ to increase its unemployment forecasts, to more than 8 per cent next year. It
predicts the jobless rate will jump to 5.5 per cent on Thursday, a four-and-a-half-year high.

The Government's forecast of 7 per cent by mid next year is expected to be revised up again in next
month's Budget. That's why Kevin Rudd announced yesterday a temporary $650 million local jobs fund.

Most of the money had already been promised in the Senate deal struck to get the second stimulus
package through.

It will help local councils build new community infrastructure: such as playgrounds, bike paths and
restoring heritage buildings.

And there'll be start-up money for innovative social enterprises for the not-for-profit sector.

The Government's under added pressure because its revamp of the privatised Job Network could cost
up to 3,000 jobs.

Jobs Australia represents many providers who missed out on contracts in the new employment tender.

Chief executive David Thomson is meeting the Minister Brendan O'Connor this afternoon.

DAVID THOMSON: In addition to anymore information we can get about some of the quirkier and
stranger results in the tender and why they occurred. Particularly in relation to high-performing
organisations that haven't been successful.

We want to talk in some detail with the Minister about how some of those organisations can play a
role in the delivery of some of the initiatives announced by the Prime Minister yesterday.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So what more could they do, do you think, in order to qualify for some of the
temporary local jobs fund?

DAVID THOMSON: Some of those organisations in fact, the great majority, have a lot of experience in
undertaking that kind of work. A lot of them were around at the time of the last recession, and
were doing this type of work.

What they need to get down to is how they can quickly become involved, and quickly start delivering
what the Government needs to be delivered.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: What more can they do?

DAVID THOMSON: I think identifying some of the opportunities there are to create work and work
experience training opportunities for people.

There's a lot of these organisations, for example, that have been delivering work for the dole over
the life of the former government up until now that have the necessary supervisors that have all
the administrative infrastructure and other things that are needed to actually get these things

And one thing's very clear if the measures announced by the Prime Minister yesterday are to be as
effective as they need to be, they need to be put in place on the ground as fast as possible.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Federal Cabinet meets tomorrow to nut out what's shaping up to be a very tough

The Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner says the Government's looking at deficits of close to $100
billion over the next three years. And the Budget's likely to see it blow out further.

The Opposition's threatening to block Budget measures it considers reckless spending. Reckless is
the buzz word on both sides of politics.

WAYNE SWAN: Oh look the Opposition is just being completely reckless and irresponsible. You know I
think they'd rather see the country fail then see the Rudd Government succeed.

Fancy even raising the prospect of doing something like blocking budget measures.

PETER CAVE: The Treasurer Wayne Swan.