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Wednesday, 3 May 1989
Page: 1684


Senator MAGUIRE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Education and Training. Can he indicate whether the latest labour force figures confirm continued growth in employment in Australia. At the same time, can he expand on the employment position in the various States?


Senator WALSH —Since we came into government in March 1983 a top, if not the top, priority of this Government has been the stimulation of employment, high employment growth. We have succeeded spectacularly in that objective. The number of people in employment has grown by more than 1.3 million in a six-year period or, in percentage terms, by a massive 21 per cent. The most recent figures-those for the period March 1988 to March 1989-show that that growth rate is being maintained. In that 12-month period, employment increased by 237,000, or around 3.2 per cent. Across the mainland States, employment growth generally in that 12-month period has been high, ranging from 0.5 per cent to above 6.5 per cent. Once one moves away from the mainland, of course, there is an exception. In the 12-month period Tasmania actually incurred an absolute fall in employment of almost 4 per cent. Of course, Tasmania has performed poorly in the whole six-year period relative to the mainland States. Aggregate employment growth in Tasmania has been just over 11 per cent-not much more than half the national average-over that period. That does not sit at all comfortably with the 1982 policy speech by the present Premier of Tasmania, when he said:

This election is all about jobs and security. Our first priority will be to restore economic management and to create jobs for Tasmania.

He certainly has not delivered on that promise. Tasmanians are being asked to vote again, but many of them have already voted with their feet. In the 12 months to May 1987-the period for which the most recent figures are available-there was a net migration out of Tasmania of 1,400 young people in the 20- to 24-year age group. Whereas Tasmania was once noted for exporting apples, it seems that, under the Gray Government, it is noted for exporting its future.