E&OE TRANSCRIPT – Doorstop Perth
Subjects: Labour force figures, Australia Day, Tasmanian abortion clinic closure, Kristina Keneally, AWU raids.
MINISTER CASH: The economy has now created jobs for 15 consecutive months. That is something that all Australians should be very pleased with. What we saw in 2017 was the economy created in excess of 400,000 jobs, and the good news for Australians is three-quarters of those jobs – in excess of 300,000 – were full-time jobs. So what you have is a government that understands you’ve got to get the economic fundamentals right, implement the right policies to enable business to prosper and grow, and create jobs.
What we’ve seen since the Coalition Government came to office in September 2013 is the economy has now created in excess of 950,000 jobs, and in 2017, what we are seeing is the economy is creating approximately 1,100 jobs per day. So we now have a record number of Australians in employment, we have a record number of females in employment, and we have a record number of jobs created by the Australian economy in 2017.
We did see in December the unemployment rate tick up to 5.5 per cent, but this is because the participation rate itself also increased, and what that means is that Australians are out there. They have faith in the economy, they have faith that jobs are being created, and they are putting their hands up and they are saying: I am ready, I am willing, and I am able to work, and they are actively searching for jobs.
So, again, with the labour force figures released today for December 2017, the Government is very pleased that for the calendar year of 2017 we saw a record number of jobs created: in excess of 400,000. Interestingly, that is now approximately almost five times the number of jobs created in the last year of the former Labor Government: 400,000 jobs by the Turnbull Government, compared to approximately 89,000 under the former Labor Government. Three hundred thousand of those jobs under the Turnbull Government, full-time jobs; and what we saw in the last 12 months of the former Labor Government is those jobs that were created were part-time jobs, full-time jobs actually went backwards.
So, again, good news on the job creation front, with the economy creating around 1,100 jobs per day.
QUESTION: How much of that is a result of government policy and how much is just pot luck?
MINISTER CASH: Well, it’s a very good question. It is a result of government policy, and the reason I say that is this: we are now looking at a calendar year. The data is now in. The trends are setting in. You are right, the figures can jump around month to month, but now that we have a full calendar year to look to, you can actually see the trends are setting in. Four hundred thousand jobs created over a 12-month period, compared to 89,000 under the former Labor Government; 300,000 of those jobs, full-time jobs. Full-time employment went backwards in the last year of the former Labor Government. So what you really are now seeing, 15 months of consecutive jobs growth. The trends are setting in, but it is a result of the implementation of policies that enable business to prosper and grow, because as I’ve always said, and as the Government recognises, governments don’t create jobs – employers do. What governments do is put in place the policies that will enable business to prosper and grow, which is what we are doing, and that is now validated by the figures we’ve seen for the year of 2017.
QUESTION: Wage growth has stagnated, though. Is that the flipside of this?
MINISTER CASH: Look, we have always acknowledged that wages growth has been slow but before you get wages growth you need to ensure that you have a strong economy and you need to ensure that businesses are out there creating jobs, and preferably full-time jobs. We now have that. And as Philip Lowe, the Reserve Bank Governor, recently said a few weeks ago, he now expects the logical flow-on effect to be – and certainly the Treasurer Scott Morrison and the Prime Minister have said this – for there to be an increase in wages growth. But you’ve got to get the fundamentals right. If you don’t get the fundamentals right, business can’t prosper and grow, business can’t create jobs. If they can’t do that, you’re not going to see wages growth. We have the fundamentals right, and we would now expect to see that to flow on to wages growth.
QUESTION: It was a good result for WA. The State Government this morning is claiming credit for that.
MINISTER CASH: I’m sure they are, I’m sure they are, but look, the State Government has only been in office for a short period of time. As we know, policies take some time to actually have an effect on the economy. Hence, since we’ve been in office since 2013, we have created in excess of 950 - or the economy has created - in excess of 950,000 jobs. The Barnett Government invested heavily in infrastructure, they invested heavily in job-creating projects, and you are now seeing that flow through to the job creation figures. But as a senator for Western Australia, I was very pleased this morning to see such a dramatic drop in the unemployment numbers in Western Australia.
QUESTION: Senator, on another issue, there’s plenty of debate and talk around about the move to move Australia Day. Where do you sit on the issue?
MINISTER CASH: I 110 per cent support Australia Day being celebrated on 26 January. This is a date that unites us. Just another, quite frankly, a political stunt by the Australian Greens and, I have to say, if this is all they’ve got for 2018 it’s a sad reflection on where their policies are going.
QUESTION: Ken Wyatt, though, thinks that we should consider moving it, if ever we became a republic. Is that something worth considering?
MINISTER CASH: And I think that the key there was if and when. I think Malcolm Turnbull has made it very clear, there are no plans to change Australia or to put Australia to the vote in relation to a republic. So, what Ken is saying is something that may or may not happen in the future, but I take from Ken’s comments that he is also supportive of Australia Day remaining on 26 January.
QUESTION: Bill Shorten has accused Malcolm Turnbull as sneering at Indigenous Australians.
MINISTER CASH: Well, Bill Shorten accuses people of a lot of things, that does not mean that they are right. The Prime Minister is a passionate believer in doing what he can to empower Indigenous people. In my former role as the Minister for Women, I know how passionate he was about reducing domestic violence in Indigenous communities. I know the work we’ve been doing in the public sector to ensure that we increase the number of Indigenous people in employment. I know the work that he’s been doing with the private sector to increase the number of Indigenous people in employment, so I completely reject the statement made by Bill Shorten.
QUESTION: The situation in Tasmania with the only abortion clinic closing, as the former Minister for Women do you find that acceptable?
MINISTER CASH: This is a state issue, it is not something that the Commonwealth plays a role in. My understanding is that the State Government is currently having a look at that and I would leave it for the Tasmanian Government to tackle that issue.
QUESTION: Do I take that though that you are comfortable with the situation?
MINISTER CASH: I have always maintained that an abortion in Australia needs to be safe and accessible but again this is not a Commonwealth issue, it is something that the Tasmanian state Government witll need to work through.
QUESTION: But are you comfortable then for women to have to travel to another state?
MINISTER CASH: As I have said my position has always been that women seeking to access abortions should be able to do so in a safe manner. This is a matter for the Tasmanian Government it is not a matter that the Commonwealth is involved in.
QUESTION: But you would urge them [indistinct].
MINISTER CASH: As I have said, I have always maintained if a woman is going to access an abortion it does need to be done in a safe manner.
QUESTION: The path has been cleared for Kristina Keneally to enter the Senate, does Sam Dastyari need to resign now?
MINISTER CASH: Well Kristina Keneally can’t actually enter unless Sam resigns so it is a little ironic that we are talking about someone coming to the Senate when there is actually no position vacant at the moment. But as someone said to me this morning; Eddie Obeid must be a very, very happy man. This would be very good news for Eddie Obeid.
QUESTION: Just on the raids last year, are you or any of your staff being investigated by the AFP?
MINISTER CASH: No.
QUESTION: Have you been interviewed or any of your staff been interviewed?
MINISTER CASH: It is an ongoing investigation so it would be inappropriate to comment but as I have consistently stated it is not an investigation into me or my office.
QUESTION: Have you had discussions with Dave de Garis?
MINISTER CASH: I have not spoken to David de Garis.
QUESTION: Does he still have his phone?
MINISTER CASH: No, he handed everything back.
QUESTION: Will you hand over the documents that the AWU is demanding relating to the raids?
MINISTER CASH: I will comply with the law.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that your office has compromised this investigation?
MINISTER CASH: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Again though, the economy is creating 1,100 jobs per day – that’s good news and that’s what we should be celebrating.