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Regional jobs: still falling behind.

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Senator John Cherry Australian Democrats Employment Spokesperson

30th September, 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/473

Regional Jobs: Still falling behind The Australian Democrats have called on the Reserve Bank to hold off on interest rate rises, with new figures showing that economic growth is failing to promote new jobs in regional Australia.

Democrats’ Employment spokesperson Senator John Cherry said data released jointly by the ABS and the Federal Employment Department showed employment growth was static in regional Australia, with a gain of just 6,000 jobs in the year to June, compared with 137,000 jobs in the big five capital cities.

“Regional Australia accounts for 43% of Australia’s unemployed people, but just 4.2% of new job creation,” Senator Cherry said.

“The unemployment rate in regional Australia is now 1.4% higher than in the five big cities. And, it would have been a full two per cent higher but for 18,000 people giving up job search in country areas in the last year.

“The unemployment rate rose in 11 regional areas around Australia in the year to June, including Hunter, Illawarra, Richmond/Tweed, Victoria’s Central Highlands, Goulburn Valley, Gippsland, North Queensland and the Far North, regional South Australia and most of Tasmania.

“Simply put, the Government’s market-driven economic policies continue to favour growth in the big five capital cities over growth in the rest of Australia.

“Its more active policies, including the sale of Telstra and competition-policy driven deregulation can only accelerate this trend.

“The Democrats are calling for a national effort to even out Australia’s growth rate, starting with low interest rates. Indeed, there is a strong case for active intervention to keep interest rates lower in regional areas by re-establishing a regional development bank.

“And the Job Network needs to be enhanced to provide more effective labour market assistance in regional Australia.

“It is just not good enough that jobs growth has stalled across regional Australia and the Federal Government continues to sit on its hands,” Senator Cherry concluded.