Subject: Labour force figures
MINISTER ABETZ: Given today’s disappointing unemployment figures I want to assure all Australians that we as a Government are absolutely committed to rebooting the economy, getting our economic action strategy into place to ensure that we can get the jobs growth that these unemployment figures show that we need. The biggest loss of jobs over 2014 was in fact in the mining sector. That just highlights how stupid a policy it was of Labor to impose the double whammy of a carbon and mining tax on that sector of our economy.
I understand that my shadow colleague, Mr O’Connor had a press conference saying he was willing to work with the Government to deal with these issues of unemployment. Could I invite him to speak to his own Labor Premier Andrews in Victoria and tell him that if he’s genuine about helping ease the unemployment situation in Australia and especially in his home state of Victoria that the East West Link might be a good idea, that Labor shouldn’t stymie that but go ahead with it and in that project alone, create the opportunity for another 6000 jobs.
Putting all this into perspective, it would be fair to say that unemployment figures bounce around from month to month. We said that in relation to the better than expected figures in November and December. Whilst welcoming them I, of course, also say that about this January figure, that it will bounce around, but of course we don’t welcome the outcome this month given the unemployment rate of 6.4 per cent.
In context, in 2014 under the Coalition, jobs growth was at three times the rate than it was under the last year of Labor in 2013. Economic growth which is the driver of job creation was at 2.7 per cent in 2014 in comparison to 1.9 per cent in the last year of Labor. What does the Government have in plan? We believe that getting rid of the carbon tax and mining taxes will help create jobs and maintain jobs. The Free Trade Agreement clearly will create jobs, huge opportunities from the services sector to the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector right through to the agricultural sector. Regaining the confidence of our live export markets has also seen jobs growth.
The approval of $1 trillion worth of environmental approvals through Mr Hunt will also assist the creation of jobs. The $50 billion infrastructure fund will also help create jobs.
Do we need to do more? Absolutely. And that is why it’s important for the Parliament to assist the Government in delivering and in delivering there are such things before the Parliament as assisting in Greenfields agreement on the workplace relations front, a very important economic driver.
The re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission so that our infrastructure can be rolled out on time and on budget and the private sector, similarly, can get the benefit.
As a Government we are absolutely committed to growing the job opportunities for our fellow Australians, it won’t be an easy task, but we’re committed to it. We are seeking to deliver on it, but a lot more needs to be done.
QUESTION: Minister, you said the Government believes the repeal of the carbon and mining taxes will help grow the economy and create jobs. That happened six, seven months ago and unemployment has risen to today to a rate we’ve not seen since 2002. Clearly that’s not working.
MINISTER ABETZ: Well with great respect, I would disagree with you. These beneficial inputs into the economy take a while to wash through, for people to regain confidence. So, same with the free trade agreements. Will they work magic overnight? No. But what it does is create confidence in manufacturers in particular, with the carbon tax, maintaining jobs and hopefully growing jobs in a whole range of areas, as seen in the agricultural sector. I’ve got a colleague, Julie Bishop, at the Foreign Affairs Offices, about to hold a press conference, so I’ll take two more questions.
QUESTION: Minister, you say more needs to be done; these are not good enough numbers. How do you see monetary and Budget policy playing a role in getting that unemployment rate down?
MINISTER ABETZ: Clearly, Budget policy is vitally important. A healthy economy is driven by a healthy Budget and that is why getting the Budget back into its parameters that is sustainable is so vitally important.
QUESTION: [Indistinct] …isn’t it, the jobs market.
MINISTER ABETZ: That is why and this is why the last Budget – and I’m not sure it’s been fully appreciated, we have shrunk the areas of unsustainable spending whilst making available a $50 billion infrastructure fund, which is about the long-term investment for our nation that future generations will benefit from. And so that sort of spending, that sort of borrowing, is in fact wealth enhancing, job creating for the future and is sustainable. And lucky last?
QUESTION: Were you being too optimistic in promising to create one million jobs in the first five years of Government?
MINISTER ABETZ: Well, if you have a look at 2014 figures, we were relatively well on track. This is just one month’s figures, as I said, they bounce around. But our promise was predicated on being able to tell the Australian people that the carbon and mining taxes would be removed as a first order of Government and the Labor-Green majority stymied that important economic development right up until July 1. They continue to do so and anybody that is concerned about jobs needs to remember that Mr Shorten would re-impose a job-destroying carbon tax on our nation if he were to be elected Prime Minister. So look, thank you very much and…
QUESTION: South Australia’s [indistinct] rate is dropping off a cliff. What are you doing specifically for jobs in South Australia and is there anything you can say about cooperation with the Labor Government?
MINISTER ABETZ: In South Australia there are clearly issues that need to be addressed and the car industry has a particular package that has been announced by the Minister for Industry to assist in the relocation of workers, given the dislocation of the car industry. That is an area on which we continue to work. We’re very concerned about it and I’m sure that we will continue to deliver for South Australia as well. So thank you very much.