THE high Australian dollar and a slowdown in the non-mining sectors of the economy have claimed their first mass casualties, with Qantas and steelmaker OneSteel announcing job cuts and banking giant Westpac eyeing cutbacks.
The job shedding came as the Reserve Bank warned that the nation needed to lift its productivity if real incomes were to keep growing as prices for commodity exports declined in the future. As economists warned that there could be a large increase in the number of jobless before the end of the year, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan moved to reassure the nation that the economy was sound, despite the turmoil on global financial markets.
In a statement to parliament, the Treasurer said Australia was better placed to ride out the economic turbulence than it was before the global financial crisis in 2008.
"I don't want to sugarcoat the current situation - if the global economy were to weaken materially, that would obviously have an impact here. But our fundamentals are strong, and we have a government with a proven track record of dealing with global instability and that is getting on with the job of rolling out a reform agenda to further strengthen our economy," Mr Swan said. (more)