Subjects: Green Army, Labour Force figures
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MINISTER ABETZ: The Australian Government’s Green Army programme is being rolled out right around Australia. It’s a $500 plus million dollar programme over four years. In Tasmania, 31 sites have been selected, 13 are already up and running and another 18 are to come on board.
Today we are here, on the verges of Mt Wellington, where a group of volunteers in the Green Army are doing a fantastic job in removing Spanish Heath, Radiata Pine and Boneseed, all of which are noxious, all of which are not native and are competing with the native vegetation.
So these young people are doing something for themselves, getting some accredited training, working outside and doing something for our environment. It’s a win-win all around and I congratulate the young people for volunteering, being involved, doing something for themselves and for their environment.
If I can make a comment about today’s unemployment figures, it is reassuring to see the unemployment rate relatively stable, yet again, with more jobs being created.
Indeed the first six months of 2015 has seen 120,000 jobs created which is the highest number in the past five years.
We’ve even seen a slight reduction in youth unemployment which is particularly pleasing and in Tasmania now since coming to Government we have had an increase in employment of 9700. Is there more to be done? Of course there is, a lot more to be done and the Government is committed to creating the jobs of the future by ensuring that we roll out the infrastructure of the 21st century— huge job growth potential there— rolling out the Free Trade Agreements and leveraging off them to the very best of our capacity as a nation.
And just here in Tasmania, the sky is the limit in relation to the Free Trade Agreements, be it with tourism, be it with our seafood, be it with our dairying.
We are rolling out in Tasmania the irrigation schemes —$60 million worth— and also the freight equalisation scheme money as of the 1st of January next year to ensure our international exports also have equity in gaining access to international markets.
This is a Government focused on getting all the parameters right so that we can create jobs. The reason we are determined to create jobs is that we know that every individual that is in gainful employment has a better mental health, physical health outcome, better self-esteem and better social interaction. And it’s not only good for themselves. It is good for everybody else in their household as well.
So getting people into jobs is an important economic consideration but it’s also a vitally important social good to be affected as well. And that is why we as a Government are so committed to the economic wellbeing of our nation and the jobs that flow from that, because it is good for the economy and it’s good for our people.
QUESTION: Senator, you mention ‘stable’ there, but there has been a slight upward shift overall for the first time this calendar year. Is this a sign of things to come, possibly?
MINISTER ABETZ: The figures bounce around and I have said that on a number of occasions with the unemployment figures. But in general terms, it is a stable position at six per cent. We have seen a slight growth in unemployment, a slight decline in youth unemployment and for the first six months of this year 120,000 new jobs over all of the Government’s term thus far. About a quarter of a million jobs, which does show that there is a growth in the economy, there are green shoots in the economy, that are in fact blossoming out into actual jobs which is of great benefit to every individual Australian that is able to achieve a job outcome.
And that is why we are so determined to get all the parameters right. That’s why we were so determined as of the 1st July this year, to have a new jobactive programme with the providers being paid on results rather than on paperwork. Getting Australians into employment. We’re very focused on that for both the economic and social good that flows.