Unemployment in the Illawarra

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:42): Today I call on the Prime Minister and the coalition government to take the situation of unemployment in my electorate of Throsby seriously. We have 9.4 per cent unemployment, nearly double that for young people. We have a crisis and it warrants the nation's attention. Before the election, the Prime Minister would jump from workplace to workplace with hard hat and fluorescent clothing, saying he had the ear of workers, he understood the needs of manufacturing and he had a plan for the future. We were promised a million new jobs. In the Illawarra, we are still waiting.

One of the government's first acts upon achieving that side of the House was to axe the Australian Jobs Act. This was the act that required companies running large projects, particularly projects with part government funding, to show cause why they should not be using Australian products, particularly Australian steel. The government cut that act and this obligation is no longer on those companies.

We recently reached a free trade agreement with China, and I am a supporter of open trading arrangements. But the provision within the agreement which removes the local work test, making it a lot easier for companies sponsoring big projects to bring workers in from overseas when there are workers here who are ready, willing and able, is a knife at the throat of regions like mine which are suffering under high unemployment. (Time expired)