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800,000 Aussies Looking for Work

16 February 2015 at 10:08 am
Xavier Smerdon
They were elected on a platform of creating more jobs but the Abbott Government is now facing the highest unemployment rate since 2002.

Xavier Smerdon | 16 February 2015 at 10:08 am


800,000 Aussies Looking for Work
16 February 2015 at 10:08 am

They were elected on a platform of creating more jobs but the Abbott Government is now facing the highest unemployment rate since 2002.

Figures released recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that in January the unemployment rate jumped from 6.1 to 6.4 per cent, with almost 800,000 people now looking for work.

The raw figure of unemployed people is the highest since 1994.

Shadow Minister for Employment, Brendan O’Connor, said 100,000 more Australians had become unemployed since the Abbott Government was elected.

“Under Tony Abbott we have the most number of unemployed people for more than 20 years,” O’Connor said.

“The unemployment rate is now the highest it’s been since 2002, higher than anytime under the former Labor Government – which included the Global Financial Crisis.

“The figures show that 34,500 joined the jobless queue in January. Over the past month while the Prime Minister has been fighting for his own job, 12,200 Australians lost theirs.

“The figures also show a massive 1.1 per cent spike in youth unemployment, with 14.2 per cent of 15-to-24 year olds unable find work.”

O’Connor said South Australia had been hardest hit by the rise in unemployment.

“South Australia saw the biggest jump which now means it has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 7.3 per cent. This should be a wakeup call to Tony Abbott to not take submarine building jobs from South Australia,” he said.

Minister for Unemployment, Senator Eric Abetz, denied that the figures proved that the Government’s work in scrapping the Mining and Carbon Taxes had not had the intended positive impact on job creation.

“Given today’s disappointing unemployment figures I want to assure all Australians that we as a Government are absolutely committed to rebooting the economy, getting our economic action strategy into place to ensure that we can get the jobs growth that these unemployment figures show that we need,” Senator Abetz said.

“The biggest loss of jobs over 2014 was in fact in the mining sector. That just highlights how stupid a policy it was of Labor to impose the double whammy of a carbon and mining tax on that sector of our economy.”

Abetz also pointed the finger at the Victorian Labor Government, saying it should agree to build the East West Link.

“I understand that my shadow colleague, Mr O’Connor had a press conference saying he was willing to work with the Government to deal with these issues of unemployment,” he said.

“Could I invite him to speak to his own Labor Premier Andrews in Victoria and tell him that if he’s genuine about helping ease the unemployment situation in Australia and especially in his home state of Victoria that the East West Link might be a good idea, that Labor shouldn’t stymie that but go ahead with it and in that project alone, create the opportunity for another 6000 jobs.”

Abetz said the Government was taking steps to improve the employment landscape in Australia, including making $1 trillion worth of environmental approvals.

“Do we need to do more? Absolutely. And that is why it’s important for the Parliament to assist the Government in delivering and in delivering there are such things before the Parliament as assisting in Greenfields agreement on the workplace relations front, a very important economic driver,” he said.

“The re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission so that our infrastructure can be rolled out on time and on budget and the private sector, similarly, can get the benefit.

“As a Government we are absolutely committed to growing the job opportunities for our fellow Australians, it won’t be an easy task, but we’re committed to it. We are seeking to deliver on it, but a lot more needs to be done.”

Australian Council of Social Service CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, urged the Government to develop a national employment plan, especially to tackle the problem of youth unemployment.

"The big jump in the unemployment rate we've seen today is deeply concerning, especially since it means 34,500 extra people are now in the troubling position of finding paid work in a tight labour market and those who rely on Newstart will have to struggle on the very low unemployment allowance payment of just $37 a day,” Goldie said.

"High unemployment is one of the biggest social and economic challenges we face, particularly affecting young people, and a growing group of people who are being locked out of the labour market for more than two years.

"The result today highlights that investing in solutions that work in supporting people into real paid work must be a priority of the next Budget.

"We must stop the practise of blaming people for not being able to get a job and demonising them when they are already struggling to stay optimistic in a tough labour market.

"It is time for the government to get behind people trying to get a job by investing in solutions and giving people hope."

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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