Release type: Transcript


Doorstop Canberra


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business


Subject/s:  ABS Labour Force figures, climate change strikes

MINISTER CASH: Well, ladies and gentleman, today, we have seen the release of the labour force figures for August 2019. The Government is very pleased that the figures show that the economy continues to create jobs. In fact, in the month of August the economy created almost 35,000 jobs. Employment in Australia now stands at a record high of almost 13 million people. The August figures also show that employment in Australia has now increased for 35 consecutive months. This is actually a record. It is the longest number of months that employment has consecutively increased since the Labour Force figures were first recorded almost 40 years ago.

I'm also very pleased to see that there has been a tick-up in the participation rate, to 66.2 per cent. What this says is that Australians have faith in the jobs market. They are out there, they're putting up their hands, and they are saying, "I am ready, willing, and able to undertake work."

In terms of the overall figures, since this government came to office the economy has created in excess of 1.4 million jobs. In terms of full-time job creation, over the last 12 months we've seen in excess of 186,000 full-time jobs created out of a total of 310,000. That is, in excess of 60 per cent of the jobs created in the last 12 months have been full-time jobs. And in relation to that 1.4 million jobs created since the Coalition came to office, 56 per cent of those jobs have been full-time jobs.

So with the release of today's data, the Government is pleased that the economy continues to create jobs, but as I've always said, we don't rest on our laurels. We understand we need to continue to put in place the right economic framework. Governments don't create jobs, businesses do. And we want businesses out there to prosper, grow, and create even more jobs for Australians.

JOURNALIST: Minister Cash, we know that people have often said that youth unemployment is the canary in the coalmine for a recession. It's been hovering between 11.5 and 12 per cent, basically since you came in to office. Do you concede that not enough has been done to create jobs for young people?

MINISTER CASH: The youth unemployment rate this month is trending in the right direction. It's gone down. I would also note that, since the Coalition came to office, we actually have a record number of youth in employment. Almost 2000 15 to 24 year olds are in employment.

I've been doing those figures for some time. I have always said there is more to do in relation to getting our youth off welfare and into work. You have a Prime Minister who has openly said to the Australian people, "I, and my government, are all about jobs and in particular, jobs for young people." I work very closely with the Prime Minister, I think it is two and a half years ago, now, to bring forward in the budget in excess of $800 million investment in the Youth Jobs PaTH program.

To date over 50,000 young people, because of that program, have had the opportunity of work. So whilst yes, I'm pleased youth unemployment's trending down, I'm very pleased that we have a record number of youth in work, we are making the right investments in getting our youth off welfare and into work, again, this is a government that knows more work needs to be done and we are doing exactly that.

JOURNALIST: You say that there have been more young people in jobs, but the rate hasn't changed terribly much, so clearly not really working as well as you'd like it to work.

MINISTER CASH: Again, I've never made any excuses in relation to youth unemployment. What I am pleased about is we do have a record number of youth in employment. We also have a record number of full-time jobs being created. We have a record participation rate, so certainly we are putting in place the right economic conditions to get people off welfare and into work.

And you heard the Treasurer say, this morning, as he brought down the Final Budget Outcome for 2018/19, welfare dependency in Australia is at its lowest in 30 years. We are putting in place the right economic conditions so that businesses out there can create jobs. We're putting in place the right economic conditions to get people off welfare and into work, because we, as a government, believe the best form of welfare is a job. Is there more to do? Absolutely, and that is why we have our plan.

JOURNALIST: Your headline figure, though, is going in the wrong direction. Is this another sign that the economy is starting to really struggle?

MINISTER CASH: When you say, "The headline figure is going in the wrong direction...?"

JOURNALIST: Well, 5.3.

MINISTER CASH: That is because we've had the participation rate tick up. The headline figure is a direct result of Australians putting their hands up and say, "I'm ready, willing and able to work." 66.2 per cent. A record participation rate in Australia. That's actually a very good figure.

JOURNALIST: Is it a problem, though, that there's not enough jobs for those people? The jobs ads are dramatically lower than the number of people looking for work.

MINISTER CASH: Yeah, the job ads is an interesting one because in 2019, and we just talked about young people, young people don't necessarily go to Seek or the ANZ Jobs Information. They often go to social media, Facebook, Twitter, so the way jobs are actually advertised now, by employers, is fundamentally different to what it used to be, and those figures don't take into account the reality of the way employers are now actually advertising. And word of mouth ... I mean, this place, of all places, word of mouth is often utilized to get a job.

JOURNALIST: Have you got an ideal figure you'd like to see for unemployment? Is it 3.5,4,4.5, zero? What are we looking at?     

MINISTER CASH: The Government wants as many Australians as possible in work. The Prime Minister has made that very, very clear. We have made a commitment to the Australian people prior to the election, that if they gave us the honour of governing this country ... and on a May 18th they did. They chose to back Prime Minister Scott Morrison's plan. He said, "I will continue to put in place the right economic conditions so that businesses can create, over the next five years, an additional 1.25 million jobs for Australians. We are focused on getting the right economic conditions in place to create jobs and our plan is working.

JOURNALIST: The Reserve Bank says that unemployment rates probably need to drop to 4.5, or even lower, to get inflation going again. Do you think that needs to be your government's focus, getting that rate down, getting more people in work?    

MINISTER CASH: The Reserve Bank has also spoken about the strength of the Australian labour market. Again, as a government we are focused on getting people off welfare and into work. August, 2019, labour force figures show record number of Australians in work. They also show more than 60 per cent of the jobs created in the last 12 months were full-time jobs. They also show we have record participation in Australia, 66.2 per cent. Are we going to rest on our laurels? Absolutely not and that is why we have a plan that we are actively putting in place.

JOURNALIST: What are the specifics of that plan to get employment ... unemployment has risen from 4.9 per cent in February to 5.3, now. Most economists think it's going to go to 5.4 or 5.5. That's in the opposite direction to where it's meant to be going. An employment growth of 2.5 per cent isn't enough to drive it down to 4.5.

MINISTER CASH: And the decade average employment growth is 1.8 per cent if you look at what employment growth was forecast in the 2018/19 budget, it has come in considerably higher. The economy, businesses out there, they are creating jobs, and the figures prove that.

JOURNALIST: But not enough, and what are the specific policies that you've got to try and get that going right now? 

MINISTER CASH: We have $158 billion worth of personal income tax that are flowing through the economy. We have a $100 billion infrastructure investment that we are rolling out, and the Prime Minister, as he stated, has written to his state and territory colleagues, the first ministers. He wants to work cooperatively with the States and territories to bring these infrastructure programs on as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

We also have, though, and this is often not focused on, we have a number of policies in the employment side of the portfolio that actively target getting people off welfare and into work, and in particular the in excess of $800 million investment in the Youth Job PaTH program. This is all about giving our youth, our young Australians, who will never have the opportunity of getting their foot in the door because they don't have the experience. We give them the skills they need to get a job, we give them the opportunity they need to undertake an internship, and then we incentivize the employer to take that person on, to continue to invest in them so they have a job. So we have a plan. The plan is being implemented and, as I've said, the Labour Force figures for August, 2019, show that for 35 consecutive months now we have seen ... the labour force figures show that employment in Australia has grown.

JOURNALIST:  The ABS counts full-time work as how many hours a week?

MINISTER CASH: Well, they count employment as anything over one.



JOURNALIST: One hour a week.


JOURNALIST:  This is as the ... Does the employment compare to the wellbeing of people as well? Do you know [inaudible].

MINISTER CASH:  Absolutely. Being in work – and this is why the Prime Minister is so fundamentally committed to getting people off welfare and into work. It's not just about the income that you receive for doing that job. If you look at all the research that has been done in relation to the benefits of work, positive mental health is one of those benefits. Having a purpose to get up every single morning, the benefits that it brings to your family. The fact that you can be a role model to others. So absolutely. It is about all of those benefits. And that is why the prime minister is so passionate about getting people off welfare and into work. Thank you all very much.

JOURNALIST: Minister Cash, just another question. Tomorrow, a group of young people, possibly thousands of young people, are taking to the streets to protest against climate inaction. What would you say to those young people? Do they have the right to take time off school?

MINISTER CASH:  I would say, "you are so lucky to live in a country whereby you can get an education”. In so many other countries kids aren't afforded this same opportunity. If you want to go and take part in such action, you can. You can do it on a Saturday. You can do it on a Sunday. You can do it after school hours. But never underestimate how lucky we are to live in a country whereby we are able to receive an education. On that note, I do have to go, because I'm not going to be paired any more. Thank you very much.