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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3851


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:04): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the employment numbers released this morning?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:04): I thank the member for Moreton for that very important question because I do want to update the House on April's employment numbers. The unemployment rate in April was steady at 4.9 per cent. These figures show that jobs were down in New South Wales and Victoria but they were strongly up in Queensland. Employment in Queensland is now higher than it was before the natural disasters. Today's figures build on this government's exceptional record when it comes to jobs. Since we came to office, the economy has created over 700,000 jobs. If we compare this to the rest of the world, we will see that there have been something like 30 million jobs shed elsewhere during that period. Just take the United States: the number of jobs in the United States is now seven million less than it was prior to the global financial crisis and the global recession, and of course their unemployment rates are very high, as they are across many other developed economies. Of course, the high rates of unemployment in those countries weigh heavily on their economies and produce high budget deficits and high debt.

Here in Australia we have the benefit of a strong labour market and the benefit of an investment boom, which will continue to create jobs. As we have forecast in the budget, there will be a further 500,000 jobs in the next couple of years. That is 500,000 reasons why we need to invest in the skills and in the participation of our workforce—to going about reforming our training system; to making sure that we give people access to work experience, to capacity building and to a whole range of programs that will empower people to take up the opportunities that will come from the mining boom; to giving extra reward to sole parents; to making those training places available; to giving people more in the hand when they work another couple of hours. This has been endorsed by a number of commentators. This is what Craig James had to say about our plans:

If there was one area crying out for attention it was the tight job market. And the good news is that the Government has taken action in a big way.

Overall, it is a smart Budget, right for the times and challenges ahead.

Or the Business Council of Australia:

The skills package is a clear highlight of the Budget and will be good for the economy in helping to ensure that we can deliver major investment projects in years to come.

Business is very much engaged in these challenges. We intend to work very closely with business and unions to ensure we lift our productivity, we train all of our people and we spread the opportunities of the boom right around the country because we do not want to leave people behind. These are very important objectives which will strengthen our economy for the future. From our perspective, the central core of what we must do here is to secure employment to create jobs to make sure that we continue to have a prosperous economy.