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Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Page: 12374

Mr KEENAN (3:10 PM) —My question without notice is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Minister, how many Australians will lose their jobs this Christmas?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —Can I say to the member who has asked the question: I really do not think in these difficult economic times after the global financial crisis, whilst we are seeing that touch upon the Australian real economy, that it is the time to play this kind of politics. Can I say to the member opposite that, as he would well know, the government has published its forecasts in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. We have said up-front and clearly to the Australian community that, because we are not immune from the global financial crisis and the looming prospect of recession in many developed countries around the world, we are expecting an increase in unemployment. For every worker involved in that, for every family, that is obviously a dreadful circumstance, whether it happens at Christmas or whether it happens at any other time.

The approach that the government has taken is to act to keep this economy in front, to act to protect jobs. That is why we did the $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy, estimated to have an equivalent effect of 75,000 jobs. That is one of the reasons we entered into a new historic partnership with states and territories around the country at COAG—because its employment consequences are viewed as being more than 130,000 jobs. That is why you have heard the Prime Minister talk about fast-tracking infrastructure—because that is about vitally needed services for the Australian community, but it is also about jobs.

That is why, when we did the Economic Security Strategy, we made available 56,000 new training places—training for work, training for jobs. We know in this economy, even after the global financial crisis, there are still some employers who are crying out for skilled labour, and we want any Australians who need that work to be able to get the skills which enable them to take up those work opportunities. This is a government that is, front and centre, committed to working with Australians to make sure that Australians have jobs and their jobs are protected. This is not the stuff of party politics. This is about keeping Australians in work, and that is why the government at every stage in responding to the global financial crisis has acted to keep this nation in front of the curve.