SUBJECTS: Sally McManus and ACTU statement about the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Act; wage growth in Australia; US steel and aluminium tariffs.
GARETH PARKER: Michaelia Cash is the federal Employment Minister. Michaelia, good morning.
MINISTER CASH: Good morning, Gareth, and good morning to your listeners.
GARETH PARKER: Sally McManus wants to change the rules. She says that there is too much casual employment, there’s not enough job security and there’s no pay rises.
MINISTER CASH: Let’s just be very, very clear. This is just the ACTU once again campaigning on lies and misinformation. The ACTU are very, very good at manufacturing fear and distrust amongst workers. Gareth, it is a fact that casualisation within the workforce has been at the same level now for in excess of 20 years, and that is: 25 per cent of all employees. It has not changed, so I really have to question why Sally McManus and the ACTU are making a huge campaign now, when under Labor the statistics were exactly the same – 25 per cent for more than two decades now. It has not changed.
GARETH PARKER: So do you think that this is a pre-election ploy?
MINISTER CASH: Oh, look. Without a doubt. They are now spending millions and millions of dollars, you know, of members’ money in an attempt to increase, what is a fact, the union’s dwindling membership base. You know, the unions today are not the unions of yesterday. Less than 10 per cent of private sector employees are union members. You know, interestingly about Sally McManus, what she said is the system is broken, and yet, Gareth, what she fails to tell people is she’s actually talking about Labor’s system, Labor’s rules, Labor’s independent umpire – all of which the ACTU had a direct hand in designing. So again, it is nothing more and nothing less than the ACTU campaigning on lies and misinformation, and this is dispelled by the actual facts, Gareth, in order to yet again manufacture fear and distrust amongst hardworking Australians.
GARETH PARKER: 922 118 82, love to hear from you this morning, listeners. Where do you stand on this? These ads, you’re going to see- if you didn’t see them last night, you will, I promise. I promise you’ll see them on your television screens over the next eight weeks. Michaelia Cash, one thing the union’s not wrong about, though, are they – because everyone listening knows this – wage growth has been pretty sluggish for quite a while now.
MINISTER CASH: It has, and the Government has always acknowledged that. But if you’re going to get increased wages growth, Gareth, the first thing you need to do as a government is ensure you have the basic economic fundamentals right. You actually need to ensure the economy is creating jobs, and under the Turnbull Government, the Coalition Government, as you know, we’ve just had 16 months, of continuous calendar month job creation. That is the first time in Australia’s history. The economy under us in the last 12 months created in excess of 400,000 jobs – 300,000 of them were full-time jobs.
Now, here’s an interesting comparison. In the last 12 months of the former Labor Government, the economy created around 87,000 jobs, so five times less than what the economy is currently creating, but in terms of full-time job creation; 300,000 jobs under us, full-time. In the last 12 months of Labor, the economy actually went backwards and lost 17,000 full-time jobs.
GARETH PARKER: So Michaelia, when do you think that that job creation record will actually flow through to higher wages?
MINISTER CASH: Oh, look, absolutely, and even the Reserve Bank Governor has now said…
GARETH PARKER: [Interrupts] No, when do you think that will happen? When do you think that will happen?
MINISTER CASH: Well, the Government has made it very clear we expect employers to now start passing on the profits that they are making in terms of wages growth. But again, as I said, if you don’t get the basic economic fundamentals right, Gareth, employers cannot be profitable. You need profitable employers, you need an economy creating jobs, and that does ultimately flow through to wages growth.
GARETH PARKER: Alright. The other big story over the weekend is the fact that Australia’s won a carve-out from President Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs. That’s good news. Have Australia had to offer anything up in return to get that special deal?
MINISTER CASH: No. Look, despite what is being said, the exemption was granted with no strings attached. I’m actually driving out as we speak to a family-owned Fero Group. They’re a national and international manufacturer of steel products and anti-corrosion surfaces. They employ, Gareth, over 300 people.
You know, we have fought hard, this government, for the jobs of steel workers in Australia, and I am very, very pleased to say we have delivered. We have, as a country, achieved what no other country outside the North American Free Trade Agreement has achieved, and that is, of course, the good news that the Prime Minister was able to confirm on the weekend an exemption for Australian steel and aluminium industries from what were very high tariffs that the Trump administration is putting on other countries. So, really good news for the jobs of steel workers in Australia. We said we’d fight for their jobs, we did and we’ve delivered.
GARETH PARKER: Thanks, Michaelia.
MINISTER CASH: Great to talk to you.
GARETH PARKER: Michaelia Cash, the federal Employment Minister.