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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 4071 ..

Part 3 - Chief Minister's Department

Proposed expenditure - Chief Minister's Department, $57,861,000

MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (11.27): Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to comment on a few matters in relation to the Government's budget and the Government's overall economic management. Some of these things we might be able to return to as we move through the appropriations. I take this opportunity to talk a little about the Government's claim that this budget is about jobs. One of the key issues that the Government really had to address in this budget was the economic situation in Canberra and the jobs crisis in Canberra brought about, to a large extent, by Mrs Carnell's friend John Howard but assisted by Mrs Carnell's own policies in relation to employment.

Mrs Carnell came into this Assembly and tried to argue that this was indeed a jobs budget and that 2,700 new jobs were going to be created by this budget. Mr Speaker, a less truthful statement than that would be hard to imagine. The simple facts are that on every examination Mrs Carnell's jobs claims do not stand up. Fascinatingly, a full 1,000 of Mrs Carnell's 2,700 jobs she does not even pretend have anything to do with her budget. The 1,000 jobs she claims are being created by the so-called Unisys People project do not even have anything to do with her budget. Mrs Carnell's linkage to the whole exercise is extremely tenuous indeed, leaving aside the question of whether the 1,000 jobs exist. The Government's main role in relation to the Unisys People project appears to have been to construct on behalf of Unisys the estimate of 1,000 jobs, as indicated by the press release put out by the Government and Unisys. Apart from estimating the 1,000 figure as Unisys and the Government said in their press release the Government had done, the Government does not seem to have any role at all in relation to this.

This job creation program - the 1,000 of the 2,700 jobs that Mrs Carnell claims are associated with this budget - is a job creation scheme in which you pay your own training costs, put your name on a list and sit by the phone and wait to be called. Mrs Carnell has the temerity to claim that as 1,000 jobs created by her Government. A more transparently false and misleading claim than that would be hard to contemplate. If it were not such a serious matter, it would be laughable.

The Government also claimed that by spending $2.5m assisting Housing Trust tenants to purchase their own houses they would create another 1,000 jobs. That would be a pretty good strike rate if you could do it, at $2,500 to create a job. We all know, Mr Speaker, that when the Government talk about a job they do not necessarily mean a job that goes for 35 or 40 hours a week for 365 days a year. It could be anything. It could be two hours a week for four weeks, on the Government's definition of a job. The Government reckon that $2.5m is going to create 1,000 jobs.

This is at a time when, according to evidence given to the Estimates Committee, the 1,000 jobs would be created by building 500 new homes. This is at a time when evidence to the Estimates Committee was that there are 600 unsold new houses in the housing stock at the moment, not counting houses being vacated by people leaving Canberra. At a time when there is so much stock on the market, Mrs Carnell would have us believe that $2.5m is going to cause developers to rush out and build 500 new homes

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