MINISTERS STATEMENTS: REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT
Mr PALLAS (Werribee—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industrial Relations) (12:23:20): Well, it is that time again. It is the time that I get to stand up in this house and once again announce that Victoria has yet again posted a record low regional unemployment rate—this time just 3.6 per cent in the September figures, which is lower than the previous record in August, which again was lower than the record in July. Now, this government has delivered nearly half a million jobs across Victoria, including 50 000 new jobs in regional Victoria. Youth unemployment in the regions is down over 5 per cent compared to November 2014, and the participation rate across Victoria is up 1 per cent. The member for Ripon wrote in the Maryborough Advertiser last week that unemployment in regional Victoria is on the rise. This is wrong. It is the lowest it is ever been—3 per cent lower than when those opposite were last in power. I am looking forward to her next op ed: ‘Steve Smith can’t score runs, Winx can’t win a race, and the member for Malvern is the workers’ best friend’. The member for Ripon has also claimed that Ballarat and Bendigo saw an increase in the unemployment rate—again, wrong. In Bendigo the unemployment rate is down to 4.3 per cent. That is compared to 6.9 per cent when the member for Malvern was Treasurer. In Ballarat it is now 2.6 per cent—a full 1 per cent less than it was 12 months ago and down from the 6.9 per cent it was when those opposite were in power. So let me repeat for the benefit of the member for Ripon: the regional unemployment rate of 3.6 per cent is the lowest in Victoria’s history and the lowest in the nation. So we will not be lectured by those opposite on regional jobs. They are more Burberry than they are Driza-Bone, and the numbers prove it.