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The Human Tragedy Continues - Another unemployment record for Keating

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Senator Jim Short Shadow M inister for Finance and \

ihadow Minister Assisting the Leader on Commonwealth/State Relations



Unemployment in Australia has reached another record high.

The December 1991 unemployment rate of 10.6% (seasonally atyusted) means another 9600 people have been thrown onto the unemployment scrap heap.

This level is the highest recorded since the Great Depression.

The increase in unemployment in the past 12 months has been a staggering 220,000 or 32%.

The updated economic outlook data released by Treasurer Dawkins this month said that "the recovery in employment and the timing of the peak in

unemployment are likely to be delayed until towards mid 1992". In other words, in the view of the Government's own Economic Forecasting Group, today's shocking figures are not the end of Keating’s engineered human tragedy.

Treasurer Dawkins' figures are already looking out of date. The Government should for once come clean and tell Australians how much worse things are really going to get. How high will unemployment go ? The Budget forecast of a 10.75% peak looks certain to be exceeded. Leaked DEBT figures, in late October 1991, said 11%. Both Senator Button and Mr Dawkins claimed late last year that unemployment would decline in the second half of 1991/92. Former Treasurers

Kerin and Willis are also on record as declaring recovery is underway.

Does the Government still support these claims ?

The true situation is even worse. These figures substantially underestimate the true extent of unemployment and under-employment. The loss in full time actual jobs in the past 12 months has been 208,000. In addition, tens of thousands of people have been forced into part time employment because of the lack of full

time jobs.

Today's figures do not take into account the large number of school leavers entering the job market at the moment. They also exclude the huge rise in university and school students who are continuing study because there are no


jobs available. The job seeker queues will grow even longer over the coming months as school leavers enter the bleakest job market in more than two generations.

Prime Minister Keating claimed his first priority in Government was to create jobs. If he is serious about this promise, then by all means he should consult with business and union leaders. But if he is serious, he has a ready made job creation program available to him - the Coalition's Fightback proposals.

Fightback has been applauded and endorsed by most of those he is now consulting. Why doesn't he just get on with it ? Fightback is seen by Australians from all walks of life to provide a vision for Australia and hope for our future. If Keating got out and talked with more ordinary people he would find this out for himself.

This unacceptably high and rising unemployment is a direct consequence of this Government's failed policies, which have seen savings, investment and confidence / lapse. Until such time as these key components are revived there will not be any sustained economic or employment growth.

An unfunded increase in Government expenditure will not solve Australia's fundamental problems. Australia needs major structural reform of industry, industrial relations and taxation coupled with a generational change in attitudes. This Government, captive to a wide range of vested interest groups, is incapable

of delivering these reforms.

Today's tragic figures add further confirmation - if any were needed - that this Government is unfit to govern.

This Government has no mandate to remain in office. It went to the people in March 1990 on promises that it has broken from the day of its re-election. Remember that both Hawke and Keating assured us days before the 1990 election that there would be no recession. They lied then, and they continue to

lie about the real state of the Australian economy.

The Government has no leadership, no vision, no policies or hope to offer the [ istralian people.

ALP Senator Jim McKiernan said before the December leadership contest that there were 900,000 reasons why Keating should not be PM. There are now 10,000 more reasons.

If he had any semblance of integrity, Mr Keating, the architect of Australia's human misery, would subject his incompetent, divided, accident prone Government to the wrathful judgement of the electorate.

Melbourne 16 January 1992 Contact: Senator Jim Short (03)387-4177