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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 587 ..


: I am really interested to hear Mr Quinlan say that he is actually not interested in a question that is as fundamental as jobs.

Mr Quinlan: Did I say that I was not interested?

MS CARNELL: You did.

Mr Quinlan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have been misrepresented.

MR SPEAKER: Interjections are out of order, Mr Quinlan. If you were misheard, that is your problem.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am happy to know, then, that those opposite are fascinated by this question. Earlier today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest official employment figures for the month of February. I have to say that these figures did contain some bad news that will impact heavily on six people living in Canberra. Those six people are the same ones who sit opposite and are members of the Labor Party. However, Mr Speaker, for the rest of us, the news is all very positive.

I am very happy to be able to advise the Assembly that the ACT has again achieved its lowest unemployment rate for more than eight years - eight whole years. The Territory has also registered the lowest number of unemployed Canberrans since April 1991 - the lowest number of unemployed as well, Mr Speaker. The Bureau of Statistics reported that the ACT's trend unemployment rate fell by 0.1 per cent in February to 5.8 per cent. This is the lowest level since October 1990 and a full 1.6 percentage points below the national rate.

I am pleased to note that the trend unemployment rate has now fallen dramatically over the last 12 months from 7.6 per cent in February 1998 to 5.8 per cent last month. Mr Speaker, the ACT has also recorded the lowest number of unemployed - that is, 9,700 - for more than 71/2 years. It is a really great outcome, Mr Speaker. Compared with February 1998, just 12 months ago, there has been a drop of 23 per cent, or 2,900, in the number of unemployed. In the last month, full-time employment rose by 700 and has been steadily increasing in Canberra since September last year.

But, Mr Speaker, wait; there is more. The total number of jobs in the ACT was 157,400 in trend terms during February. That is 700 more than the previous month. There are also 4,000 more jobs than for the same month last year - 4,000 more jobs in 12 months, Mr Speaker. I know that Mr Berry particularly will be interested to learn, too, that Canberra's population aged 15 and over was 235,900 - an increase of one per cent, or 2,400 people, over the last 12 months. Mr Speaker, Mr Berry has regularly said that everybody is leaving Canberra and that that is the reason why the unemployment rates were coming down. Well, there you go - 2,400 more people over the last 12 months.

In the last month alone, our working age population increased by 200, Mr Speaker. Mr Berry will be pleased, and Mr Quinlan obviously will be pleased as well, to hear that Canberra's participation rate of 70.8 per cent rose by 0.1 per cent compared to the previous month. So, there are more people participating in the work force as well.

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