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Labor priorities: job creation and lower unemployment.

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Labor has set itself a target of reducing unemployment to 5 per cent in our first two terms of office. Labor will not stop working until we achieve it.


Australia can reach that target — even if the impact of the international economic crisis on our growth rate is greater than the Coalition will concede. We can achieve the target if we put in place the right policies.


Once elected, Labor will hit the ground running with its plan for jobs. The measures contained in Labor’s plan will, on their own, directly create 105,000 jobs in our first term. This will be the Commonwealth’s direct contribution under Labor towards our unemployment target.


Based on all of our policies, which are designed to grow the economy faster than the Coalition’s policies, I announce today that Labor will adopt a job creation target of 500,000 in our first term of office — that is, by October 2001. [This includes the Commonwealth-generated jobs.]


What does John Howard offer against this? A new tax, in 21 months time.


How many jobs will this new tax create? The Australian public doesn’t know — John Howard won’t say.


Will John Howard set himself a goal on jobs? No.


Why? Because he cannot demonstrate that the GST will create one job.


But even if John Howard won’t announce a target on jobs, it doesn’t mean that the Government hasn’t some idea about where jobs will go after the introduction of the GST.


In the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, released by the Secretaries of the Treasury and the Department of Finance on 8 September 1998, the Government officially estimated that in the year after the introduction of the GST, the Commonwealth will spend an extra $250 million on unemployment benefits, over and above what it had estimated before the unveiling of the GST . This represents around 30,000 more Australians out of work in the year after July 2000.


30,000 more Australians out of work. This is the unemployment target John Howard

won t tell you about.

Under Labor’s Community Jobs Program, announced yesterday, we will directly create up to 18,000 ongoing full-time jobs in local communities, geared towards community development and infrastructure projects. The program will cost about $300 million a year from 1999-00.


The jobs will be created by distribution of funds to local organisations, including local councils.


Labor’s Community Jobs Program (CJP) will be primarily for mature age people, but also for young unemployed, and will be directed at those who:


* live in areas where unemployment is at a specified level above the national average;

* are ready to work;

* are low skilled or whose skills are now outdated;

* are not mobile fo r family reasons;

* are unlikely to benefit from re-skilling opportunities; and

* are in need of full-time incomes.


CJP participants will be nominated by Employment National and by local employment service providers.


The decisions about which projects wi ll be funded will be based on the priorities identified by Labor’s proposed new regional structures, described in our Better Plan for Regional Australia, with input from local councils and community groups.


Labor’s CJP jobs will be real, on-going jobs.


More than addressing the needs of unemployed Australians, this program recognises that communities need these jobs done: markets are efficient at many things by they do not do many things which communities need doing.


Labor expects CJP jobs to tackle tasks which directly benefit communities by completing projects which otherwise would not be completed. There are many worthy projects which will benefit a particular community but which will never be of quite high enough priority in the local council’s budget to be completed.


Labor expects the CJP to concentrate on projects such as:


* neighbourhood maintenance;

* road repairs;

* cleaning and restoration of local urban creeks and other waterways;

* soil conservation

* recycling of local waste products; and

* a ssisting the infrastructure needs of local voluntary bodies such as the fire and state emergency services.



24 September 1998