Michelle Lensink

Increasing Unemployment Figures

A question to the Minister for Employment - South Australia's unemployment rate.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Employment about South Australia's unemployment rate.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: Have you got a briefing paper on that?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes, hopefully. Today, the ABS released employment figures which show that South Australia's unemployment rate has increased to 7.3 per cent, which is the worst in the country, with the national average actually down to 5.7 per cent and, notably, that the increase in youth unemployment has increased from 17.3 per cent to 18.7 per cent, which is also the worst in the country. South Australia now has the highest trend unemployment rate in the country for the last 29 months.

My question to the minister is: can he explain, in as much detail as possible, why South Australia's unemployment rate is a full percentage higher than the next closest state, which is Queensland at 6.3 per cent, and 1.6 per cent above the national average unemployment rate?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy): I thank the honourable member for her question. There are a range of factors that make up the figures for employment.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order!

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: It is important to note, while I know the honourable member likes to pick out certain and particular figures to highlight, that over the last year we have seen the number of jobs net increase in South Australia. Over the last 12 months, employment is up more than 7,000— more than 7,000 over the last 12 months. Over the last year and a half, there are nearly 14,000 more South Australians employed than there were a year and a half ago; and, pleasingly, over the last 12 months, the majority of those are full-time positions. So, the trend is going in the right direction for this state. We are getting much closer to the national average, and that is a good thing for South Australia.

In terms of what are causes or reasons for a particular month's figure, there is no one particular reason you could point to. There is no one particular company that is responsible for a particular figure. Certainly, there are a number of components, and one of them is the sample size. In South Australia over the last year, in a small state, we have seen it jump up and down by over half a per cent—half a per cent at a time.

We have also seen a very significant increase in the number of women entering the labour force. We have seen, on trend terms in the last 12 months, 5,600 more women enter the labour force; 2,300 more women in the last 12 months are working than in the12 months before, but we have seen a very significant increase in the number of women who have entered the labour force.

We are seeing, as we have spoken about here, a slowdown in the automotive manufacturing sector, and we have talked about this time and time again in this chamber. We have talked about this, and it's an embarrassment for those opposite. It is an embarrassment for those opposite that their mates in Canberra, three years ago, chased Holden out of this country—chased Holden out of this state—and didn't give a thought to what would come next.

They were pushed and forced into awarding South Australia what they had always promised but tried to renege on, that is, defence shipbuilding projects; but we have seen them acting on it too late. We have seen nothing but a half-baked plan this week, and that is one of the problems. We have a very highly trained, sophisticated, advanced manufacturing workforce, but through the dithering of the federal Liberal government it has meant that there is this gap between when automotive finishes—it was chased out by the Liberals—and when the defence naval shipbuilding will start. So, there are a range of factors.

There are a range of factors that see a spike this month. But in 18 of the last 19 months, employment has grown month on month. In 18 of the last 19 months we have seen more jobs the month before than there were before that—18 of the last 19 months. It is an embarrassing fact for those opposite who love to talk this state down, but employment over the last year and a half has actually been growing.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Given that in the last five years there were nearly 900,000 jobs created nationally, and only 11,000 in South Australia, to what does the minister attribute this little blip, or is this—

The Hon. R.I. Lucas: Spike.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Spike—thank you. To what does the minister attribute this spike?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy): She is asking to what do we attribute the spike in jobs growth. To what do we attribute that? Well, there will be a range of factors that we attribute the spike in jobs growth. None of them are to do with the federal Liberal government, who are doing everything they can to punish South Australia.

The federal Liberal government don't think there's another seat here to win. That's why they are not acting on building ships here quicker. That's why, in the budget of $70 billion of infrastructure projects, there was not one new cent for South Australia. So, I can tell you what it's not attributed to: the jobs growth in South Australia is not attributed to the federal Liberal government.

There are a number of things that it can be attributed to: the Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith's Economic Investment Fund; the fantastic minister who is doing great work—his fund has created about 5,000 jobs. The Hon. Geoff Brock, the member for Frome, is a champion of jobs growth in this state.

Another thing the Hon. Michelle Lensink's reference to a spike in jobs growth in South Australia could be attributed to is the Hon. Geoff Brock's Regional Development Fund, where $33 million has supported 61 projects that independent analysis indicates have created more than 2000 jobs. So, there are probably a number of things we can attribute the honourable member's spike in jobs growth in South Australia to.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On a supplementary, can the minister explain this discrepancy: when Victoria has clearly lost a lot of jobs in the auto manufacturing sector as well as South Australia, why is South Australia's trend way below Victoria's?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy): I thank the honourable member. There are a number of reasons why. We were hit with a number of factors, such as the federal Liberal government's ideological decision to shut down auto manufacturing in this state as well as our reliance on the commodities and mining. When there was a downturn it affected us disproportionately. It affected Queensland and WA as well. The auto affected us and Victoria. There are a number of things that have affected us disproportionately to other states.

 

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