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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20001

Mr BAIRD (1:58 PM) —I am happy to advise the House that the Sutherland shire's employment rate in the June quarter fell to 2.27 per cent. It is the second-lowest in NSW behind Kuringai, on 1.9 per cent, and is one of the strongest results in the nation. The figures are part of the small area labour market survey that is conducted quarterly by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and have revealed that the Sutherland shire is well below the state and national average. This is great news for the shire—low unemployment locally signals the absolute strength of the local economy, which is built on the back of small business and individual enterprise. It also points to the quality of job opportunities for our young and the formidable work ethic in the Sutherland shire.

The national figures released last week revealed the nation's unemployment rate had again fallen—to 5.8 per cent, its lowest point in over a decade. Strong economic management by this government and a willingness to make the tough decisions has impacted locally. These results are incredible. Locally, the unemployment rate continues to fall, and the message I am getting from the business community is that they are having to advertise in the Illawarra to fill vacancies. A strong economy means more jobs for Australians and a high standard of living. Employment adds to an individual's self-esteem and the strength of the community. Responsible economic management by the Howard government has helped to reduce unemployment to 5.8 per cent nationally—the lowest figure since Labor's peak of 10.9 per cent unemployment in December 1992—and to 2.27 per cent in my area. I am very pleased to commend these figures to the House.