ON THE JOB

By CRAIG McTEAR

IF you're one of the many unemployed people living on the Coffs Coast, your local MP wants to reassure you that he's on the job.

The Federal member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, says reducing unemployment here is one of his high priorities.

And so it should be, considering his electorate has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the nation.

"We're up there unfortunately," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"It's a place (the North Coast) where for lifestyle reasons many people wish to come.

"It's always a challenge to provide employment opportunities for people coming to the area."

December quarter electorate figures released by the Federal Parliamentary Library show Cowper at 9.5 per cent unemployment, way above the national average of 5.1 per cent.

While it's still bad, it's a long way from the 12 per cent back in 1996 when Labor lost power.

"I would like unemployment to reach the low fives (per cent)," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"(But) the more opportunities you create, the more people will want to come to the area."

He said unemployment had been on a downward trend and the Federal Government was 'working hard to reduce it further'.

"There is more work to do," he said.

The Federal Government was providing opportunities for future growth in the region and hence additional employment prospects.

These included $12 million allocated to the sustainable regions program between Kempsey and Ballina, the regional partnerships program, improvements to mobile phone technology and further investment in telecommunications, road and rail infrastructure.

He said the Government was helping regional universities to offset the costs of course delivery and praised the contribution of the



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