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Thursday, 16 October 2003
Page: 21651

Mr HARTSUYKER (2:52 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Would the minister advise the House of current levels of long-term unemployment, as released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics?

Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the honourable member for Cowper for his question, and I say to him and to the House that the Australian government's record on employment is excellent. We saw this last week with the release of the unemployment statistics, which showed that the unemployment rate in Australia was below six per cent for the second month in a row for the first time in 13½ years. To the member for Cowper, I say: there is more good news. The Australian Bureau of Statistics in its data for the month of September has indicated that long-term unemployment—that is, those who are unemployed for 12 months or more—is now at its lowest level in 13 years. Seasonally adjusted long-term unemployment fell by 9,900 in September, a 7.5 per cent drop on August.

In fact, the long-term unemployment figure is 207,000 below the peak of 329,000, which was recorded in May 1993 under the Keating Labor government. There has been a fall of more than 200,000 from the peak in May 1993, under the Australian Labor Party in government, of some 329,000. The level of the very long-term unemployed—those who have, unfortunately, been unemployed for more than two years—has also fallen by almost 40,000 since this government came to power. There is always more that we can do in this regard, but this is very good news in relation to unemployment. It indicates once again that the economic policies of this government, aimed at making Australia a prosperous nation, are working for unemployed people.