SUBJECT/S: February employment figures
OLIVER PETERSON: Alright. An additional 65,000 new full time jobs was created around the nation in February, but the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.6 per cent. In WA, it’s now 6 per cent. Despite the slight increase, 8000 new full time jobs have been created in WA.
Joining me is the jobs Minister Michaelia Cash. Minister, good afternoon.
MINISTER CASH: Good afternoon, Ollie, and good afternoon to the WA listeners.
OLIVER PETERSON: Indeed. Good news: more jobs. Bad news: the unemployment rate has gone up. Why is this the case?
MINISTER CASH: Because there’s actually been an increase in the participation rate, which means there are more Australians out there putting their hands up and saying: I’m ready, willing, and able to undertake employment and I’d like a job. So yes, it is good news in terms of the employment figures, with 427,000 jobs created in the last 12 months.
OLIVER PETERSON: And here locally, around 8000 new full time jobs in WA. That is welcome news?
MINISTER CASH: It’s always welcome news when I see an increase in employment. I mean, total employment fell over the month of February by 1300, but you are right - the increase in full time employment was 8300, so certainly labour market conditions in WA have strengthened; that’s always a good thing.
OLIVER PETERSON: Now, looks like there’s a win for the Government this afternoon, because one thing that listeners to Perth Live continually tell me is the lack of apprenticeships that are available, and I see reported this afternoon that Pauline Hanson will support company tax cuts in exchange for an apprenticeship program. Can you confirm that, Minister?
MINISTER CASH: Look, I can’t confirm that, Ollie, but what I will say is this: we are very conscious of the need for more apprentices and, in fact, that is why we have our Skilling Australia Fund and we’re looking to deliver an extra 300,000 apprentices over the next four years. So absolutely: we also recognise there’s more to be done on apprentices, and that’s why we made that commitment.
OLIVER PETERSON: And I see as well, Andrew Forrest - it’s been reported that he has declared that any money that he saves from tax cuts will be reinvested back into the economy, so, if you take FMG as an example: a 5 per cent tax cut would deliver $40 million back to FMG - surely that would create more jobs and would be welcome news for all Australian companies, if they take the lead of Andrew Forrest and reinvest their money back into creating jobs.
MINISTER CASH: Oh look, very much - a great Western Australian. But I also see Alan Joyce, Andrew Mackenzie - they have also come out, they are calling on the Senate to pass the business tax cuts, pledging a lower tax rate will lead to more jobs and higher wages. So, it is good news that the employers are coming out and saying: we will reinvest back into our business and create jobs and deliver higher wages. That’s a good thing.
OLIVER PETERSON: And I see that jobs are certainly front and centre at the moment in the national debate, because the ACTU wants to put the brakes on part time work and remove the uncertainty for workers who are not in full time positions. Now, is this something the Government would consider?
MINISTER CASH: Absolutely not. Part time work is a valid type of employment, as is full time work, as is casual work. I mean, the ACTU, I mean, that speech yesterday by Sally McManus has literally just been slammed across the board. Sally McManus and the ACTU are leading a campaign of misinformation to the Australian people. They want to scare them. The fact of the matter is, in relation to casualisation - guess what? For over two decades now, the percentage of the workforce that is casual has actually remained steady at around 25 per cent. In relation to part time employment, this is often a choice that people make, in particular women who have caring responsibilities. And in terms of full time employment, the good news for Australians is we have now had a record increase in full time employment growth. So all three types of employment are valid and we need to promote them all.
OLIVER PETERSON: Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash, thank you very much.
MINISTER CASH: Great to be with you, thanks for having me.