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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13696

Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (09:48): I rise to talk about jobs on the mid North Coast, and I am pleased to report that, in the six-year history of the Lyne electorate, we now have the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded on the mid North Coast, of 5.9 per cent. That is a significant result, particularly when compared to historic differences between state and national averages and local averages where there has normally been a margin of about two per cent between local figures and national figures. In the local mythology you normally add about five per cent for youth unemployment and another five per cent for Indigenous unemployment. We are now having a real and substantial crack at dealing with the too-hard basket of entrenched generational unemployment. I am very pleased to report to the House that we now have the lowest recorded figure for unemployment on the mid-North Coast. We have a difference of less than one per cent between local figures and national figures. That difference has been reduced since 2008 from about 2½ per cent to, now, below one per cent, and I look forward to reducing unemployment further. We have a regional employment plan which has about 17 stakeholders involved in dealing with generational unemployment rather than allowing it to remain in the too-hard basket.

An aged care plan is now in place to deal with the ageing bubble coming through and the associated workforce requirements. Last week we announced funding of $100,000 and the appointment of Jill Simmons to run the manufacturing cluster of the major manufacturing businesses on the mid-North Coast in getting organised. We have now appointed two education, jobs and skills coordinators for the mid-North Coast. It continues to be a priority employment region, and local employment coordinators Renee Hawkins and Mark Almond are doing a lot of coordination work on the ground. The two job expos in Port Macquarie and Taree over the last 18 months have successfully put over 400 people into work. I was pleased last week to announce Port Macquarie's next jobs expo for 17 February next year.

This is a concerted push to take the issue of generational unemployment out of the too-hard basket, and I am pleased that through the ABS figures we are now starting to see results. The work will continue, and, whilst national economies fluctuate, the key figure is the difference between, on the one hand, local unemployment averages and, on the other hand, state and national unemployment averages. I am very pleased to report to the House that for the first time ever we have reduced the difference to below one per cent.