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Catholic Welfare fears defence spend-up will stall jobs growth

Catholic Welfare Australia is alarmed that next week's Federal Budget will stress national security and defence at the cost of job creation and programs for getting unemployed people into the workforce.

The organisation has issued a statement calling on Treasurer Costello to make the budget socially responsible, and to forget about political expediency.

Catholic Welfare accused the Government of complacency on unemployment, which it says is "stuck above six per cent".

Yesterday's Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force data reveals there are around 630,000 job seekers competing for only 86,000 job vacancies.

"That such a significant segment of the community faces a precarious future despite a decade of dazzling economic performance is an indictment on this country's economic management," said Director of Catholic Welfare Australia, Mr Toby O'Connor. "Those excluded from the labour market or trapped at its margins have not shared in the prosperity and can expect things to get worse should the economy slow."

"The least our community should expect on Budget night is a proper national employment strategy including measures to improve access to employment services as well as direct job creation," said Mr O'Connor. "Investment in sustainable public infrastructure and regional development would lift the performance of labour markets experiencing chronically high levels of unemployment and low employer demand."

Meanwhile Catholic Social Services Victoria policy director Fr Joe Caddy said the Federal Budget must offer something for individuals and families who have "gained nothing from the rising wages, increasing property values and greater lifestyle choices enjoyed by so many Australians over recent years".

He said: "If we are looking for savings then they must be found from elsewhere and not from the programs and entitlements that help people with disabilities, sole parents and the long term unemployed."

Catholic Social Welfare
Catholic Social Services Victoria
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Employment data (released 9/5/02)

Catholic Welfare Australia/Catholic Social Services Victoria

10 May 2002