The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE: My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Minister advise the House of the latest company to establish regional headquarters in Sydney?
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: The honourable member's question is very topical because it is related to jobs. At 11.30 a.m. today the Australian Bureau of Statistics issued its monthly labour force figures. Once again New South Wales has the lowest unemployment rate. From January to February the unemployment rate in New South Wales declined from 6.4 per cent to 5.8 per cent compared with 6.3 per cent in Victoria, 8 per cent in Queensland, 7.2 per cent in South Australia, 6.3 per cent in Western Australia and 8.6 per cent in Tasmania. In the past 12 months Tasmania has actually lost 2,500 jobs; Western Australia has gained 13,000 jobs; South Australia has gained 13,000 jobs; Queensland has lost 5,000 jobs; and Victoria has gained 10,000 jobs. In just one year New South Wales has gained 67,000 jobs. I am pleased to inform the House that pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will set up its Asia-Pacific information technology headquarters in New South Wales. Johnson & Johnson will create 82 direct hi-tech jobs and invest $10 million in North Ryde during the next five years.
The Hon. Ian Cohen: More bandaids for the Government.
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: Don't tell me you're against Johnson & Johnson.
The Hon. Ian Cohen: No, I just said, "More bandaids for the Government."
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: The decision will also build on the State’s growing biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector, which generates more than $2.5 billion in sales annually. New South Wales is the base for 40 per cent of Australia’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, employing 7,000 people directly. Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s most comprehensive and broadly based manufacturers of healthcare products and related services with more than 100,000 employees and operations in 51 countries. It sells products in more than 175 countries and the company’s Australian operations already employ more than 1,000 people. The company's decision is another blue chip investment win for Sydney, reinforcing our position as the information technology gateway to the Asia Pacific. Johnson & Johnson selected New South Wales over tough competition from Singapore.
Mr Robert Scherini, Managing Director of Johnson & Johnson, advised that Sydney was selected because of the availability and depth of professional talent and also the fact that so many of his important business partners are already based here. Johnson & Johnson’s announcement brings the number of regional headquarters located in Sydney to 470, and reinforces Sydney’s leading role as the information communications technology hub for the entire region. Sydney’s highly skilled and multilingual work force has a well-earned reputation for delivering cost-effective, state-of-the-art information technology centres.
The Hon. Dr Brian Pezzutti: That company does not manufacture communication components; it makes baby powder.
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: Unfortunately, the Hon. Dr Brian Pezzutti is soon to join the ranks of the unemployed. I understand that he is going to desert us, and will not run for party preselection. That is tragic because he is the only intelligent member of the Liberal Party in this House. His party would not put him on the frontbench. It is a tragedy that he has decided to join the ranks of the unemployed. [Time expired.]