Australian unemployment at lowest level in 30 years

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Friday, June 9, 2006

Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced Australia's unemployment rate for May 2006 on Thursday. The rate had dropped to 4.9 percent, the first time since 1976 that unemployment in Australia had been below five percent.

Mr Howard said 56,000 full time jobs were created in May with 38,000 of those taken up by women. He said it was a symbol of how well his government was managing the economy. "The result is a wonderful symbol of the success of the Government’s economic policies." said Mr Howard.

According to the government 1.8 million jobs have been created since it took office in March 1996.

The number of people actively seeking work also increased, a sign Mr Howard said that people are "confident of finding work."

At an interview in Sydney, Mr Howard told reporters that he believed the unemployment rate would be driven down further when the benefits of his Workchoices industrial relations reforms begin to show. "I believe, as some of the effects of the workplace relations changes work their way through, then the unemployment rate, particularly in small business, will go down even further," he said.

Mr Howard denied that Workchoices had any affect on the figures for May saying that it was too early to tell. "I am not going to make that claim. It’s only May’s figures and the changes only came in March. I think it is too early to make that claim" Mr Howard told reporters.

Following the announcement, Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey said that the rise in the number of jobs could not have happened without the government's industrial relations reforms. "We wouldn't have achieved these outcomes, particularly in employer hiring, without the changes we've made,"

"When employers have confidence in their hiring arrangements as the Workchoices gives them, they're going to go out and hire more people" said Mr Tuckey.

Stephen Smith, workplace spokesperson for the opposition attacked Mr Tuckey's claims, stating that all the government's new industrial relations legislation has achieved is reduced wages. "The suggestion that somehow we've got these employment and unemployment figures as a result of 30 days of John Howard slashing wages is a complete nonsense," he said.

"It's great that we've got a 30-year low in unemployment but that's a result of 15 years of continuous economic growth and a resources boom." said Mr Smith.

Sources

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.