Page MP Janelle Saffin says the Federal Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, should explain why he continues to talk down our local economies.

“Luke should also explain to his constituents in Cowper why he continues to vote against every stimulus measure in Parliament to support our local economies, local jobs and local small businesses,” Ms Saffin said.

“He needs to explain why he voted against infrastructure spending to the tune of more than $105 million in his own electorate.

“Infrastructure spending that will see 175 school building and maintenance projects, more than $4.5 million for new social housing units and $1.7 million for social housing repairs and maintenance, $4.87 million for local council infrastructure projects and funding for major road projects in his electorate, all supporting local jobs.

“Luke says one thing here at home and another in Canberra, as do his opposition colleagues.

“I challenge him to come clean and tell his constituents that he has consistently voted against these stimulus measures that are doing so much to support local economies on the North Coast.”

Yesterday in a media release, Mr Hartsuyker said that the unemployed in the Federal electorate of Page are paying the price for Federal Labor’s poor economic management, with the latest jobseeker figures revealing a disturbing trend.

Figures released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations show the number of jobseekers in both the Grafton and Lismore area has risen by more than 10 per cent since Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007, he said.

The June 2009 DEEWR figures reveal in Lismore the number of jobseekers increased by 13.16 per cent, from 1542 to 1745, since November 2007. In Grafton the number of jobseekers has increased from 1417 to 1578 – a rise of 11.38 per cent.

“In just over 18 months, Kevin Rudd has started taking us back to the bad old days of Hawke and Keating when unemployment in Grafton and Lismore peaked at around 15 per cent,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“These figures show that despite Kevin Rudd’s cash splash, dole queues are getting longer and many local families are really struggling. Hundreds of families across the two communities are paying the price because the Prime Minister has talked down the economy and created business uncertainty.

“Under a Coalition Government, the local labour force grew and unemployment consistently trended down in Grafton and Lismore. At the same time the Coalition paid off Labor’s $96 billion debt.

“In just 18 months Kevin Rudd has committed his government to more than $300 billion in debt and yet more and more local people are receiving Newstart or non-student Youth Allowance.”

Mr Hartsuyker said the Rudd Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme would further undermine job opportunities on the North Coast.

“Green groups and business organisations both oppose Kevin Rudd’s ETS because it will drive up unemployment and do nothing to help the environment. But the Prime Minister is recklessly committing Australia to a scheme before there is a global agreement,” he said.

“All the evidence indicates that this will hit small and medium-size businesses hard. It will directly impact on their profitability, cost jobs and increase the cost of living.”