Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4093 ..
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, because of the financial problems we inherited from those opposite, we too were in a position of having to cut the size of the ACT Public Service by about 2,000 positions since we came to office. That is 9,500 Public Service jobs. Secondly, Mr Speaker, those opposite have attempted to undermine every single effort we have made to try to solve the problems that existed in the ACT; to try to fix our budgetary position.
Shall we just have a bit of a look at some of those, Mr Speaker? Just think about when we attempted to raise the threshold for payroll tax for small businesses - opposed by Labor. Our business incentive scheme - opposed by Labor. Even youth 1,000, Mr Speaker - 1,000 jobs for young Canberrans - opposed by Labor. I could go on, but I will not because I think we have already clearly demonstrated the lack of support given by those opposite to create the right climate for business and jobs growth. Who could forget Mr Berry day after day in 1997 telling Canberrans that the Federal Government was going to destroy this city; that it was all over? People were leaving the city in droves, I remember him saying.
Despite all of these hurdles, while we still have a long way to go, the scoreboard under this Government is looking pretty healthy, particularly when you compare it with the performance of those opposite during the mid-1990s. Our unemployment rate has been under 6 per cent for most of the past year. Our participation rate of people wanting to work in Canberra now stands at 73.5 per cent, compared to just under 72 per cent when we came to office, when we took over from Labor. That is the highest participation rate of all States and Territories. The number of unemployed Canberrans is also much lower - in fact there are some 13 per cent fewer unemployed now than when Labor was in office. We have a higher participation rate; fewer people unemployed.
But it is in employment growth where our efforts stand out in starkest contrast with the negativity of those opposite. In the last year alone, 9,200 new jobs have been created in Canberra. That is right, 9,200. That represents growth of almost 6 per cent in just 12 months. Since we came to government in 1995, we have an extra 11,900 new jobs. That is after taking off all of the Public Service job losses, so there are nearly 12,000 new jobs. We have an all-time record number of jobs in this city. As I said earlier, of those 11,900 new jobs, 8,000, or just over two-thirds, are full time.
Before Mr Berry starts raving on and saying, "Oh, they are not real jobs", Mr Speaker, two-thirds are full-time jobs. Mr Speaker, you can always rely on Mr Berry and, more recently, Mr Stanhope as well, to find something wrong with our jobs growth.
Mr Stanhope: No, no, I just thank God for Paul Keating.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Stanhope, do you make a habit of doing this in a court of law? When you are there, do you constantly interject?
Mr Berry: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Do you constantly interject on the prosecutor?