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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3468 ..

MR WHITECROSS: She wants the people of Canberra to believe that John Howard is responsible for the depressed state of the ACT economy, but growth was only 0.9 per cent for the 12 months to March 1996. This was before John Howard took over. This is against the budget forecast of 2.5 per cent - 0.9 per cent down from 2.5 per cent.

To take this further, there is also no credence to Mrs Carnell's claim that pre-election jitters are to blame for a decline in economic activity. In 1992-93, when Labor was running the ACT and the Liberals were expected to win the Federal election, the ACT recorded 4 per cent growth and 6,500 more jobs, whereas under Mrs Carnell we have seen growth under one per cent and the number of jobs falling. Canberrans are missing out because of Mrs Carnell. Growth in the ACT is below the national average and likely to remain so for some time. Mrs Carnell's budget this week finally acknowledges that the ACT economy is in trouble, but this acknowledgment has not been met with cohesive and long-term strategies and solutions. This budget will not lead to economic growth and jobs. It is too little too late.

Mrs Carnell's budget speech was full of talk about employment and jobs. She talked about job creation schemes and funding. On close examination, this budget is not about jobs. `Jobs' was just a slick marketing slogan invented after the budget was put together. Mrs Carnell certainly tried to give the impression that she had the answers; that she was concerned. On the Government's own estimates it will not meet the challenge. There will be 1.5 per cent fewer Canberrans in jobs in 12 months' time. The Government is projecting no employment growth for four years. There will be no new jobs until after the year 2000.

Mrs Carnell's so-called jobs budget is long on rhetoric but short on real commitment. It is full of exaggerated claims, minor programs and repackaged versions of what already exists. As an example, Mrs Carnell announced that a new teaching classification will be introduced within the enterprise bargaining agreement to recruit recently graduated teachers. Fifty new graduates will be employed this year. Not only was this already negotiated and announced well before the budget as part of a trade-off for the teachers' pay rise, but these are not new jobs. They are the recently graduated teachers the Education Department recruits every year to meet its needs. If anyone has any doubt that this initiative is just public relations hype and not a new jobs initiative, they only have to look at Budget Paper No. 4. This so-called new initiative does not even rate a mention under "Government Schooling" and there are no new funds earmarked for it.

Other programs are short-term solutions lacking in funding and real commitment. There will not be a graffiti-led recovery. Employing 60 people part time for half a year to clean up bus shelters is in itself not a bad idea, but when the money dries up so do the jobs. These are not real jobs. Seven hundred thousand dollars for 60 people is only $10,000 each. A one-off program such as this is no real commitment to the job seekers of Canberra, who are looking for stability and an opportunity to develop marketable skills. This cynical attempt to show action on jobs highlights the Government's true attitude to Canberra's unemployed.

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