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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1647


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that 1,500 Qantas jobs are now at risk and the Qantas carbon tax bill is four times its current tax bill. Why is the Prime Minister still in denial about the impact of her carbon tax on jobs and will she now apologise for describing job losses as 'mere growing pains'?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:00): In answer to the Leader of the Opposition's question, first and foremost, as usual he has misrepresented what I have said to the Australian people because he knows if he tells the truth that he will not be able to sustain this fear campaign. On the Qantas job losses announced today, of course I am distressed to hear of any Australian worker losing their job. Of course I am. For those Qantas workers and their families this will be tough news indeed. As is clear from Qantas's announcement, this is about maintenance arrangements and particularly maintenance on different types of planes. For the Leader of the Opposition to say that these job losses today have been caused by putting a price on carbon is wholly untrue and once again contemptuous of the workers involved.

When we as a Labor government hear of job losses we certainly share the pain of those involved and our motivation is then: what can we do to assist? What can we do to help? What can we do to get people a new opportunity in the economy? That is what we do as a Labor government. When the Leader of the Opposition hears of job losses, his reaction is to say: 'How can I use this as part of my political campaign? How can I make cheap politics with this?' It is entirely disrespectful to the workers involved.

I would also say to the Leader of the Opposition that, perhaps because he is not interested in economics, not interested in facts and not interested in jobs, he has missed the employment statistics that came out today. I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that if he looked at those employment statistics what he would see is that the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.1 per cent. The economy has added over 46,000 jobs in January. That means there are more Australians in work today than at any time in our nation's history. On our side of the parliament, we are delighted when we hear that people are getting jobs as these statistics show.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the substance of the question.

Ms GILLARD: Of course, we understand this has wrecked the Leader of the Opposition's media strategy for the day and of course he is bitter about that.