Posted on 15. Mar, 2012 in Victoria

Regional Victorians are bearing the brunt of the State’s job crisis, with unemployment growing at more than twice the rate as Melbourne, Labor Spokesman for Regional and Rural Development, John Lenders, said today.

Mr Lenders said in the last five months, unemployment in regional Victoria grew by two percentage points to 6.3 per cent in February.

“Today’s ABS regional labor force data is a wake up call for Premier Ted Baillieu to urgently develop a jobs plan for regional Victoria,” Mr Lenders said.

“Jobs are under threat or have been lost in just about every regional community, including Ballarat’s Mars factory, Geelong’s Alcoa and Ford plants, Girgarre’s Heinz factory and Bendigo’s Pasta Master. And more will come.

“In the three months to February, 9,700 more regional Victorians joined the unemployment queue and there are now 14,000 less jobs in the regions.

“Regional Victoria’s participation rate for this period fell 0.5 per cent.

“In Parliament today, in response to a question put by Labor Leader Daniel Andrews, Mr Baillieu refused to rule out public sector job cuts for Ballarat and Bendigo.

“At a time when regional manufacturers are being hit hard by a high Australian dollar, the Premier plans to cut more jobs from local regional economies already under stress.

“For example, CPSU figures show more than ten per cent of Ballarat’s workforce are employed in the public service.

“His plan to cut regional public sector jobs now shows how little the Premier understands about regional Victoria.”

Mr Lenders said today’s figures show a massive 16,600 full-time jobs had been lost in regional Victoria since Mr Baillieu took office in November 2010.

“This is almost the same number of full-time jobs lost in Melbourne for the same period – despite Melbourne having a workforce almost twice the size,” he said.

“It clearly shows Victoria’s regional economies are the biggest victims of the Baillieu Government’s failings and lazy economic management.

“Mr Baillieu thinks his job is to blame everybody else for job cuts, but his job should be to roll up his sleeves and produce a real jobs plan.

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