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Howard's economic growth leaving rural regions behind.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/867 TUESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT SENATOR ADEN RIDGEWAY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS SENATOR FOR NSW HOWARD'S ECONOMIC GROWTH LEAVING RURAL REGIONS BEHIND After 13 years of economic growth, Australia is becoming a two-track economy where the big cities do well but rural and regional areas are increasingly left behind, say the Australian Democrats. Democrats Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said Federal employment data showed just 20% of new jobs were outside capital cities where the 40% of the unemployed live. Just 37,400 new jobs were created in regional Australia compared to 155,000 new jobs in six capital cities. "John Howard has had the audacity to start his election campaign gloating about the Government's track record on the economy and employment at a time where the regions are struggling." Democrats Senator for NSW, Senator Aden Ridgeway, noted that regional NSW had consistently higher unemployment rates with regions like the Illawarra (8.2%) and Richmond-Tweed (7.4%) well above the overall non-metropolitan unemployment rate of 6.2% and the metropolitan rate of 5.2%. "While Orange has an unemployment rate below the national average (4.7%), others areas within the Calare electorate are not so fortunate, like Lithgow with 7.3% unemployment," said Senator Ridgeway. The Democrats Regional Employment and Development strategies include: • Increase national investment in infrastructure such as roads, water and telecommunications; • Tax credits to encourage business investment and job creation in economically disadvantaged regions; • Establishment of a Small Business Development Bank to provide finance at reduced rates for investment; • Stopping National Competition Policy being used to reduce the provision of government or private sector services in smaller country towns and instead focusing on providing fair competition laws for farmers and small business; • Investing in regional health, education and banking services; • Promoting a regionally based renewable energy industry utilising solar, wind and rural by-products; • Regionally based tax system for economically distressed regions. "Australia should not continue to be a 'two track' society where the gap between the big cities and the regions continues to widen," Senator Ridgeway concluded. *Democrats Regional Development and Regional Employment issue sheets are available upon request. Media Contact for Senator Bartlett - Rowena Bew 0400 729 555 Media Contact for Senator Ridgeway - Liz Willis 0417 410 506 News releases can also be sent by email. Please advise us if you want to join the email distribution list.