Mon, May 02, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Australia will target 4.5% unemployment

AFP, SYDNEY

Australia’s upcoming budget will forecast 500,000 jobs to be created in two years as the country rides a mining boom, bringing unemployment down to 4.5 percent, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said yesterday.

Swan said secure employment was the first responsibility of the Labor government of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the budget to be delivered on May 10 would have that as its central emphasis.

“What I can say about the budget is that we will see the creation of an additional 500,000 jobs in the next couple of years, with an unemployment rate coming down to 4.5 percent” from 4.9 percent, Swan told Channel Ten’s Meet the Press.

The treasurer acknowledged that despite the mining boom, joblessness was unacceptably high in some parts of the country and the government was looking at a range of incentives for employers to bring people into the workforce.

The government has warned that the upcoming budget will be tough as it -attempts to bring it back into surplus by the financial year that starts next year and runs until 2013.

Swan said cuts were necessary, because of a short-term weakness in the economy caused mostly by natural disasters such as the devastating floods and Cyclone Yasi which struck earlier this year.

In his weekly economic note, he said the government had funded a stimulus package during the global financial crisis, but now it was time to restrain spending.

“Just as we had to increase spending to support the economy when the private sector was in retreat, we now have to step back as the private sector recovers,” he said. “This means we need to restrain budget spending and build surpluses as the economy strengthens.”

Swan said the budget would attempt to balance the short-term challenge of the loss of tax revenue due to natural disasters as well as other weak areas in the economy against the rising price pressures caused by the mining boom.

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