Page 978 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013

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Economy—job creation

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): Madam Speaker has received letters from Ms Berry, Dr Bourke, Mr Coe, Mr Gentleman, Mr Hanson, Mrs Jones, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Wall proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Madam Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Berry be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The benefits to the ACT economy, business and our community of maintaining employment and creating jobs.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (3.55): I am very happy to be talking on this matter of public importance today.

The Australian Labor Party will always have the protection of working people as one of its fundamental principles. We are a party that was founded to protect the rights and interests of working people. Job protection is at the heart of these beliefs, and it is a core priority to which the Gallagher government is committed.

Defending jobs is not just a matter of political or economic expediency. In our system, the best way for a person or household to participate fully in our society is to be in work. The best way for a person to live a good life and enjoy the benefits that our society offers is to be in work. And the best way for a society to prosper is to have as many of its citizens as possible contributing to its economic and social benefit. Conversely, joblessness imposes not just an economic cost on the person and their household, and on the economy more broadly, but also has a human and social cost.

The ACT has a strong track record on creating and supporting jobs. According to the latest ABS figures, for January this year, the trend number of ACT residents in work was 209,700, the highest trend figures on record. Our unemployment rate is 4.5 per cent, which is still well below the national average of 5.4 per cent. Only the mining boom economies of Western Australia and the Northern Territory have lower unemployment. And we have the second highest participation rate, at 72.7 per cent, behind only the Northern Territory.

Importantly, our economy is still creating jobs. Year on year to January 2013, employment growth in the ACT was 1.8 per cent in original terms. And in the six months to November 2012, full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings in the ACT increased by 2.6 per cent. This built on the figure for the previous 12 months, which showed, in original terms, earnings rising by 6.2 per cent, the largest increase of any jurisdiction. By way of comparison, the unemployment rate in Tasmania is 7.4 per cent. In New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland the rates are 5.1, 5.8 and 5.9 per cent, respectively. Further afield, the unemployment rate is 10.7 per cent in the EU, 7.9 per cent in the USA, and 7.7 per cent in the UK.

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