Time To Get Victoria Working
Nothing is more important than a job. It’s how families pay their mortgage, how they pay their grocery bills and how they support their children.
Unfortunately, Victoria has lost its title of being Australia’s job creation engine room. Our state has become the employment drain of the nation, shedding more than 1000 jobs a week since the middle of last year.
What Ted Baillieu needs to understand is that behind the rising unemployment figures are real people facing an uncertain future. Instead, Mr Baillieu seems more interested in blaming others for the failing economy.
When I meet with industry leaders and workers, the message is the same – the Baillieu Government needs to outline its plan to secure and create jobs and maintain growth.
With no plan, the only signal the Premier is sending to investors and the community is that the state is closed for business.
For the past 12 months, I have asked the Premier to develop a jobs plan. The business community has called for the same. These calls have been arrogantly dismissed.
Labor faced economic challenges in 2008, and in the following years Victoria was the engine room for job creation.
In one year, the state generated more than 90 per cent of all the full-time jobs created in Australia.
We did this by cutting payroll tax, cutting WorkCover premiums and investing in projects that created jobs. The government also made sure it bought locally so jobs stayed in the state.
No one blames Mr Baillieu for the high Australian dollar, but Victorians have a right to expect a hell of a fight to protect jobs.
At the very time the economy needs activity to stimulate it, Mr Baillieu is slashing 3600 jobs, raiding money from WorkCover so premiums are less likely to come down and walking away from policies that would guarantee the Government buys locally.
Victoria’s fundamentals are strong. Though we are not a resource-rich economy, we have the people and skills to succeed.
A plan for a strong economy means a plan for jobs.
Good governments can shield economies from international shocks but it requires leadership, commitment and ambition. And you’ve got to give a damn.
It’s about time Mr Baillieu started working hard to keep Victorians in work.
This piece originally appeared in the Herald Sun on 17 March 2012.