Release type: Transcript


Interview with Steve Price 2GB


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Jobs and Innovation
Senator for Western Australia

SUBJECTS: Job creation; business tax cuts, ministerial code of conduct.

STEVE PRICE: Well, Canberra this week, of course, has been dominated by the Barnaby Joyce issue, but a lot of the other good news for the Coalition has been pushed to one side which is unfortunate because there is a lot of good news. I was reading The Financial Review this morning and they reminded us that Tony Abbott made a promise back in 2013 - during the election campaign of 2013 - that a Coalition government in five years would create a million new jobs. Now, they are very brave, brave, tips to make. I mean if you make a tip like that, the chances of you getting to it normally are pretty slim. Well, guess what? The Coalition since September 2013 they’ve been in government, have created 271,500 jobs, they’re nearly to a million, which should make every Australian happy because the more people in work the stronger the economy and the better the country feels about itself.

On the line is one of the Ministers responsible for these job creations, the Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Senator Michaelia Cash. Evening, thanks for joining us and I know it’s late on Thursday but this can be nothing but good news.

MINISTER CASH: Look Steve, when we were elected in September 2013 we said to the Australian people: we will be a job creating government. Jump forward now to February 2018 and under the Coalition government 971,500 jobs have been created. You’re right, it is good news for Australians and over the last 12 months, the economy has been creating each and every day in excess of 1100 jobs. That I would say is a pretty good achievement.

STEVE PRICE: I don’t want to put the mozz on you but everything if it keeps going in the direction it is, with the eight months you’ve got 28,500 new jobs to create, is Michaelia Cash going to be the jobs minister when we tick over to the million mark?

MINISTER CASH: Well, I certainly would hope so – and we are heading in that direction, but you are right you never take things for granted in this game and even if we do and when we do tick over to a million can I assure all Australians we don’t stop, we just look at ensuring that we continue to put in place the right policies so that businesses can grow and create even more jobs for Australians. When we said we’re a job creating government we meant it.

STEVE PRICE: Put the politics just briefly to the side. Are we creating the right jobs in the right parts of Australia in your view?

MINISTER CASH: Yeah, no you asked a really interesting question and the answer is yes. Obviously there are certain parts of Australia where you’d like to see more jobs growth but certainly when you’re creating- in the last 12 months in excess of 400,000 jobs but the important thing is this; three quarters of those jobs, in excess of 300,000 were full-time jobs. That is what Australians need, the creation of full-time jobs, because when you create full-time jobs ultimately that’s going to flow into wages growth.

STEVE PRICE: You’re also the Minister for Innovation. I think one of the areas that the country’s got to be careful of is that we don’t get- leave behind some people in the creation of these new jobs and we are seeing already, Senator, some gaps in the market where we need more engineers, we need more people with basic trades, bricklayers, we need people who can actually keep the infrastructure boom that we’ve got going going, so you’ve got to do this hand in hand with training, right?

MINISTER CASH: Oh look, absolutely. I always say absolutely as a government you need to be out there creating the jobs. We’re doing that. But you’ve also got to then focus at the other end, what are the policies you have in place to ensure that people on welfare can get into work and our policies are very much focused on doing that, but at the same time ensuring that Australians have the skills that are relevant to the jobs that are being created. But you’d be interested to know that just going through the Parliament at the moment is the Skilling Australians Fund and that is our commitment to Australians to put a lot of money into a fund to ensure that we are training up apprentices so that they are capable of carrying out the jobs.

STEVE PRICE: It’s not often talked about but we get calls about it a lot on this program that during the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years, I mean they opened up the gates to Australian universities and universities where they saw the opportunity to sign up students and income came with it were giving people in the university education sometimes when they didn’t need it and what we saw go backwards were TAFE colleges – I know they’re under the control of the states and institutes of technology. I know Simon Birmingham’s working hard on that area, but that’s absolutely vital if we want to keep training people.

MINISTER CASH: Oh look, absolutely. And again you can’t have a situation, though, like we did under the former Labor government whereby quite literally – what they were doing is they were allowing people to come into Australia and literally train up as hairdressers, they’d end up as taxi drivers and you literally just had a plethora of people who came in here allegedly on a skilled visa but ended up being a taxi driver. That is completely unacceptable. We have very much tightened up this system to ensure that we’re getting the right people into Australia and training them for the right jobs but at the same time instituting the Skilling Australians Fund to ensure that we’re saying to the people of Australia: we’re also going to invest in you. We believe in you. When we say that you have to look to Australians first to ensure that if they’re work willing and able, they put their hands up, they can get a job. You’ve got to tackle it from a number of policy areas and that’s what we’re doing.

STEVE PRICE: The only criticism may be that yes, we’ve created all of these jobs but people are working for less income, that the wages growth is not matched the jobs growth. How are you going to encourage employers to share their profitability with their employees? Wages growth has been flat now for two, three years.

MINISTER CASH: Yep, okay. So what you actually need to ensure that you get wages growth is obviously a strong economy. So, certainly with the jobs figures that we now see - and in fact, this month actually marked the longest run of monthly jobs growth ever on record, 16 months of consecutive jobs growth - you need a strong economy, you need the businesses to be creating jobs. In particular, as I said, three-quarters of the jobs created last year were full-time jobs. That ultimately then enables businesses to profit and pass that on to employees.

And certainly I think it was late last year, the Reserve Bank Governor noted that even the Reserve Bank expected that the growth of the Australian labour market, it will continue to be pick up in the coming year – and that’s what we’re seeing – and stronger conditions in the labour market should see lift in wage growth over time. Unless you have that basic foundation of a strong economy, businesses creating jobs, businesses creating full-time jobs, it won’t translate into wage growth. But we’ve got all the conditions now coming together that should give us the positive wage growth.

STEVE PRICE: One of the conditions that’s not coming together is Labor blocking your business tax cuts in the Senate. Bill Shorten continues to say that they are tax cuts for billionaires - which I think’s just a cheap and nasty throwaway line. Can you get those tax cuts through the Senate at some stage in the parliamentary year this year?

MINISTER CASH: Well look, we are committed to it. Why are we committed to it? Because we understand you’ve got to put in place the right policy framework in which business can prosper and grow. This is the right policy framework. And I know the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance, they will continue to talk to the crossbench because Labor have made it very very clear, they do not have a plan for jobs. They do not have a plan that is going to help one business in Australia grow. And I often say to those on the other side in the Senate; do you understand that a business that has to close, employs no one? Do you know what they do, Steve? They laugh. They actually don’t get it. You’ve got to put in place the right policy framework to incentivise business to grow and our tax cut policy, absolutely. It’s already doing that with smaller, medium… who are getting the benefit of the initial policy and as I go around talking through them they say to me it’s all about the Government believing in them and ensuring that the system works for them. Can I tell you – I have only ever met small businesses, Steve, that reinvest back in to the business …

STEVE PRICE: Labor doesn’t seem to get it that you don’t actually pay tax unless you’re a profitable business, you’re making profits.

MINISTER CASH: Exactly. Then they actually think all profit is actually bad. How is profit bad? If a business is not making a profit it will close. And I go back to that basic premise, a business that has to close employs no one. How in God’s name is that good for (a) the employer, they’re now out of job, but (b) the employee that were being employed? It’s just that Bill Shorten stands up and makes all sorts of pronouncements when it comes to jobs but what he forgets to tell the Australian people is that Labor has never really had the capacity to get the basic economic fundamentals right. If you don’t get the basic economic fundamentals right you’re not going to grow business and you’re not going to see jobs growth.

I’ll just give your listeners a quick example. Last 12 months under this Government in excess of 300,000 full-time jobs were created. Under the last 12 months of the former Labor government, 17,700 full-time jobs disappeared. The economy went backwards. What I’m now saying to people; is here are the statistics…you make your decision, but the question I’m going to ask you is this: would you trust Bill Shorten with your job? But more than that, would you trust Bill Shorten with your kid’s job? And I don’t think based on those statistic Australians should.

STEVE PRICE: The figures don’t lie, certainly that’s the case. I mentioned at the beginning of the interview that the Barnaby Joyce affair has sucked the oxygen away from the Government this week. We spoke about this on our program, Andrew Bolt and I earlier, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a statement in the prime ministerial courtyard this afternoon, he is actually altering the ministerial code of conduct and he said – quote – in 2018 it’s not acceptable for a minister of any government in this place to have sexual relationships with a staff member. You accept and agree that that’s the right way to go?

MINISTER CASH:   Look, ministers are in a privileged position. We’re in a position of power and we have a duty of care. We should at all times behave in an appropriate manner. I have one rule here. I’m usually at home in bed as soon as I can be. Unfortunately, that’s not usually, Steve, until about midnight. I don’t want your listeners to think I’m home at 6pm. You know, that’s the rules I apply to myself. It is for others to judge their own conduct. You know, but yeah we’re in a privileged position, we are in a position of power, we do have a duty of care and we should behave at all times with respect to our staff.

STEVE PRICE: And you welcome the changes, obviously?

MINISTER CASH: As I said, I have one rule for myself. Others, they need to decide what rules they apply to them. But certainly for me I do understand that ministers are in a privileged position and should behave at all times appropriately.

STEVE PRICE: Michaelia Cash Senator, thank you very much. Have a good weekend. We’ll talk to you soon.

MINISTER CASH: Always fabulous to be with you. Have a great night.