COMMENT

Good news for the government.

Although the unemployment rate is up, it's barely up. And, to be honest, it's probably back to what it always was given the last quarter number of 3.9 per cent was a record low and came as a bit of a surprise.

But the good news is one of two things is happening here.

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By anyone's standards, 4.2 per cent is a number to be proud of. By and large, it's full employment. In other words, if you want a job you can find one.

And these job numbers have held up against what seems like a pretty dire mood among business. If this government is now famous for one thing, apart for lack of delivery in the year of delivery, it's that the business community in survey after survey doesn't like them and doesn't like the prospects for the economy.

And yet the job market still looks more than impressive.

Now it might be that the job market lags mood, and layoffs are coming or new hiring is not going to be made.

Or, fingers crossed if you're a government supporter going into election year, the economy isn't as bad as some make it out to be and the job market holds up.

One of the most critical numbers you can have as a government when you're looking for votes is around jobs.

Most people are in work, and they're paid a half decent wage, and that's the other stat out - wage growth is at a 10-year high. And although it's hardly spectacular, it is beating inflation, so statistically anyway we are on average materially better off.

So if you've got work, you can afford the power bill, and maybe a Christmas holiday, you're satisfied. And a satisfied voter tends to vote for the incumbent.

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So on that positive note, if that's how it's going to pan out, here's what the government can do now to make it better.

Get the bludgers off the jobseeker benefit. To have a record number of jobless on the benefit in an economy with work is a social crime. There is value in work. I'm astounded that a government so obsessed with mental health, poverty, depravation, and recidivism encourages so many layabouts the way they clearly do on the jobseeker benefit.

And then loosen up foreign labour laws. If they insist on supporting locals going nowhere, the least they can do is allow business to hire the talent they need.

To stifle the labour market with unnecessary welfare support and a crack down on immigration rules, is to prevent the economy fulfilling its true capacity.

The irony being, I would have thought, that's the last thing a government would want.

But their ideology around foreigners, dovetailing with their ideology around welfare, has us with a chronic shortage in too many industries. And a government's role is not just to support those at the bottom of the heap, but also those that want to get ahead.

They are big on one, but not the other.