Release type: Transcript


Doorstop, Canberra - Labour Force Figures for October 2019


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


Subject/s:  ABS labour force figures, youth employment, CISC

MINISTER CASH: Good afternoon everybody. We’ve just seen the ABS labour force figures released for October of this year and there has been a slight uptick, a small uptick in unemployment. This is not surprising to the Government given this comes off the back of consecutive increases in employment for some time now.

The unemployment rate is now 5.3 per cent. This is a Government that has put in place the policies to ensure the economy has created in excess of 250,000 jobs. 250,000 jobs have been created over the last 12 months and almost 54 per cent of those jobs have been full-time jobs. I note that since we were elected to office, the policies we have put in place have seen the creation of almost 1.5 million jobs in Australia. And again, the majority of these jobs have been full-time jobs.

We’ve always said that as a government we recognise that employers create jobs and certainly, since we have been in office that is exactly what they are doing. The employment figures today are not surprising given the strong consecutive monthly growth that we have seen for some time now and in particular over the last 12 months where we have seen the economy create in excess of 250,000 jobs. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed by the figures today?

MINISTER CASH: I think every time I’ve stood here, for almost three years now when I’ve been in this portfolio, I have made the point that employment figures jump around month to month. And this is why you really do need to look at the 12 monthly average, or alternatively, the decade average. Employment growth remains at two per cent which is above the decade average of 1.8 per cent.

The strong employment growth that we have seen in those last 12 months, in excess of 250,000 jobs created – the majority of which have been full-time jobs. The fact that since we were elected to office in 2013, the economy has created almost 1.5 million jobs. Each month, I say, this is a Government that does not sit on its laurels. We will continue to put in place the policies that enable business to prosper, grow and to continue to create more job for Australians.

JOURNALIST: The Reserve Bank has made clear they want the unemployment rate down to 4.5 per cent to get wages growth going. You saw wages annual growth slow last month. And the policies that are calculated into the budget have unemployment remaining above 5 per cent for the next two years. Doesn’t that mean there has to be change in policy direction to align with unemployment falling strongly to 4.5 per cent?

MINISTER CASH: Look at the decade average, employment growth remains above the decade average. In the last 12 months, employment has grown, or the economy has created over 250,000 jobs in the last 12 months. Today’s figures are not unexpected given the strong monthly consecutive employment growth that we’ve had for some time now. I’ve never made any excuses, the Government doesn’t make any excuses. We need to ensure that we’ve put in place the policies that will allow businesses to prosper, grow and create more jobs for Australians.

That’s why over the next decade we have a $200 billion investment in our defence capability. Last week in Western Australia, the Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price and I, attended a Defence Industry Capability Summit. This was all about talking to businesses about the job opportunities for them within our $200 billion investment. This is why we have $100 billion investment in infrastructure. Infrastructure projects, they create jobs. This is why we have in excess of $585 million investment in upskilling Australians.

Everything we do, every focus we have is on ensuring that we are putting in place the policies to allow the economy to create jobs. And when you look at that last 12 month figure, in excess of 250,000 jobs have been created, the majority of which have been full-time jobs.

JOURNALIST: Minister, isn’t the only reason that the unemployment rate didn’t go down further was because people gave up looking for a job?

MINISTER CASH: Absolutely not. When you actually look at the participation rate, it remains at almost a record high of 66 per cent. So participation actually still continues to be very strong in Australia.

JOURNALIST: Minister, every month I stand here and ask you about youth unemployment, it's now at 18 month high of 12.4 per cent. And every month you give me the same answer which is pointing towards things like Jobs PaTH. Isn't it time now to acknowledge those things aren't working?

MINISTER CASH: No, not at all. Every month - youth unemployment in Australia, regardless of who is in office – remains high. As a Government, we recognise this. And that is why we have put in place policies and, in particular, the Youth Jobs PaTH policy, to tackle youth unemployment.

JOURNALIST: But it’s trending upwards.

MINISTER CASH: Figures released yesterday by the ABS show that 9 out of 10 young people are either in work or are in study. Again though, and you are right, I have never made excuses for the level of youth that are unemployed in this country.

And that is why it's been such a strong focus of our Prime Minister in his previous roles, and we will continue to work with our young people, to get them off welfare and into work, to give them those opportunities to get that foot in the door. Because so many of our young people, they tell us, they just don't get that opportunity and that is exactly what our programs are focused on. Giving them those opportunities to get into work, or alternatively, to get into study.

JOURNALIST: But they're trending upwards. So they're clearly not working.

MINISTER CASH: Again, employment figures jump around from month to month. I have always acknowledged that youth unemployment in Australia, regardless of who is in office, Labor or the Coalition, is too high. And that is why we have such a concerted effort on creating jobs in Australia.

Since we were elected, 1.5 million jobs have been created. In the last 12 months alone a quarter a million - in excess of a quarter a million jobs – have been created. We are putting in place the policies. Employment itself and job creation, remains above the decade average of 1.8 per cent. We will put in place the policies to ensure that people are able to get off welfare and into work.


MINISTER CASH: Again, I refer you to – I think the Treasurer was asked this morning – the Government has a plan. It was a plan that we took to the Australian people. The Australian people endorsed that plan, on the 18th May. We are implementing our plan. And in particular, the tax cuts. The tax cuts, which were fought against by the Australian Labor Party.

I think often people forget that if we were standing here today with a Labor minister, you'd actually be asking them about why they had legislated $387 billion in taxes on the Australian people. Imagine the impact that would have had on the Australian economy.

The Treasurer and the Prime Minister have been very, very clear. We have a plan and we will stick to our plan. And that includes of course giving the Australian people tax cuts, because we do believe as a Government the Australian people know best what to do with their money and we want them to have more of it.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the economy needs more structural reform in the labour market to get it moving?

MINISTER CASH: Again, this is why we have the investment that we do have, in reforming the vocational education and training sector. We took to the election a policy, one that has been implemented by way of the budget, in excess of $585 million investment in ensuring that Australians have the skills for today and for tomorrow. I am committed to reforming the vocational education and training sector in Australia. This is all about ensuring that Australians are getting the skills that employers are telling us they are needing. So we are making the investment and we are making the necessary reforms to vocational education and training in Australia.

We're actually working collectively with the states in relation to this. And you would have seen, you know, at the recent COAG meeting, some months ago now, the first Ministers themselves issued a statement they want to work together to reform vocational education and training in Australia. That is exactly what the Skills Ministers of Australia have now been tasked with doing. We meet again next Friday in Queensland and we're actually united in reforming this sector to ensure that it is properly delivering for employers in this country. And ultimately, giving Australians the skills they need.

JOURNALIST: What will you be discussing with the Skills Ministers at this meeting?

MINISTER CASH: We are discussing the road map and the way forward in relation to changes to the VET sector. I was delighted at the last skills meeting, only a few months ago, we issued a communique. We came together as states and territories, we were able to put politics aside and say, 'We have a united vision, this vision has been endorsed by the first ministers, and we will collectively work together, over the next period of time, to ensure that we deliver to Australians and to employers, to industry, the vocational education and training sector that they need.'

Thank you very much.