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Jay promises another "jobs budget" as unemployment continues to soar

Local

Premier Jay Weatherill says next week’s state budget will once again be “all about jobs”, but concedes the economy faces a “massive task” of rebuilding as South Australia's jobless rate today continued to languish well above the rest of the nation.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for May, released this morning, show SA’s jobless rate easing from 7.3 to 6.9 per cent, seasonally adjusted.

But that’s still 0.8 per cent worse than the nearest competitors (Queensland and Tasmania), and well above the national average of 5.5 per cent.

In trend terms, SA was the only state to record a rise in the unemployment rate, from 7.0 per cent to 7.1.

Unsurprisingly, the State Government was promoting the seasonally adjusted figure, while the Opposition hammered the trend rate, “where for 30 months we’ve had the worst unemployment rate in the nation”.

However, Weatherill noted the 0.4 per cent improvement in the headline figure was “the largest improvement in the nation, but it’s still too high”.

“What it shows is that we’ve got a massive task ahead of us to continue to grow the kind of fast-growing, exciting industries we need to outstrip the ones that are closing,” he said, noting that next week’s state budget would attempt to meet the challenge.

“It’s a very challenging time and our budget will all be about jobs – the creation of jobs, the supporting of the new industries and showing people the pathway of how they can get jobs in those industries,” he said.

But Liberal spokesman Corey Wingard noted that neither the rhetoric nor the nation-leading unemployment status had changed.

“These jobs budgets the Premier keeps putting out just aren’t working for SA,” he said.

“I’m tiring of it, and I think all South Australians are tiring of it… the Premier and Treasurer have shown they don’t know what they’re doing.

“It’s very sad for SA to be in this situation… the big factor is we’re so far off the national average. That’s the key point here – why is SA so far off every other state?”

The SA Property Council called on the Government to adopt specific job creation strategies in the budget, which Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis will hand down next Thursday.

Executive director Daniel Gannon argued for land tax reform, the abolition of stamp duty, council amalgamations, population growth strategies and a taskforce to help lure top ASX100 companies to headquarter in Adelaide.

“With less than 130 days until Holden closes, we need urgent reforms to prevent the jobless queue from extending further,” he said.

“We need to create an environment that attracts more people and more investment, and that means getting the basics right.”

The unemployment figures, and the Premier’s pledge to foster new industries, coincided with today’s confirmation that the Royal Croquet Club – a symbol of both Adelaide’s emerging pop-up bar culture and Riverbank rejuvenation – was in voluntary administration.

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