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Its time to get serious on unemployment.

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13 May 1999




The Shadow Minister for Employment, Training and Population, Martin Ferguson, today called on the Government to engage in a serious jobs debate.


"Today's labour force figures, showing unemployment b ack up to 7.5%, reinforce the need for the Government to urgently address the issue of unernployment."


Everyone in the community - business groups, welfare groups, academics - are seeking to develop new and creative ideas on unemployment. But the Government is talking another language - a language of politics not a language of solutions.


The news of this week confirms the need to do more:


• Monday - ANZ Bank Chief Economist Saul Eslake confirms that the recent decline in the unemployment rate is a result of a falling participation rate rather than employment growth.


• Tuesday - The budget, in the year ahead, devotes more funding to the computer support systems for the introduction of a GST, than to new employment initiatives.


• Wednesday - Peter Reith's department's leading indicator of employment falls for the tenth consecutive month.


• Thursday - Costello has achieved his target 7.5% unemployment rate - meanwhile, over 700 000 Australians are unemployed.


"The budget was another lost opportunity to de velop a comprehensive strategy on unemployment. If the Government was serious about unemployment they would have a tax package with no job-destroying GST. They would have a system of in-work benefits, like Labor's earned income tax credits and jobs bonus, to improve the interface between tax and welfare.


Structured training would supplement work for the dole, and wage subsidies would offer the long-term unemployed real work expenience", Mr Ferguson said.


"The fact is that in the last 38 months the government has created 162,600 new full-time jobs, barely one third of what Labor achieved in its last 38 months. This Government simply cannot create jobs and, according to the budget, don't plan to try."


For further information contact Rod Glover on (02) 6277 4899