MINISTER CASH: Ladies and gentlemen, it is fantastic to be here today with Steve Irons, the Member for Swan, and David Green, the owner of Wonder Walls. Wonder Walls is a fantastic example of a Western Australian employer that is doing its bit to ensure that those who are unemployed and do not have a job are given the opportunity to come and work in their factory and gain a long-term, sustained, ongoing role. Wonder Walls works very closely with its jobactive provider to ensure that they get the right person for the right job. They then spend time with that person upskilling them, to ensure that going forward they have that long employment relationship. So David, fantastic to be with you today, and congratulations on being someone who is creating jobs for our economy.
I’m also delighted that the November labour force figures that have been released today show that for the second consecutive month the unemployment figures in Australia have declined. We have seen a decline from 6.2 per cent to 5.9 per cent last month, to this month, against all market expectations, the unemployment rate in Australia is 5.8 per cent.
That translates into last month alone, approximately 71,400 jobs were created. That equates to around 2500 jobs per day were created in November under this Government. We've also seen an increase in the participation rate. That is also welcomed by the Government, because what it says is that we have encouraged workers; Australians are putting their hands up and saying we want to work. And the encouraged worker effect is always looked at positively by a government.
If you also look at the employment trend in the calendar month for this year, we've seen in excess of 300,000 jobs created. That is the highest calendar level growth in job creation since 1989. So, the Government is delighted that for the first time in 25 years, or just over 25 years, we have seen the highest level of employment growth in a calendar year under this Government.
What we've also seen though, is in the last two years under the former Rudd-Gillard Labor governments, they created approximately 226,000 jobs. In the last two years of a Coalition Government, we have created just on double that amount, approximately 452,000 jobs.
So I think Australians should get a very, very clear message; when a Coalition Government is able to implement its agenda, which is all about growth, which is all about productivity, which is all about job creation, you will see that translate into tangible benefits for Australians on the ground.
So again, the Government welcomes today’s November labour force statistics, which show that unemployment in Australia, for the second month running, is on the decline and now stands at 5.8 per cent.
QUESTION: It’s on the up in WA though, isn’t it?
MINISTER CASH: It is on the up in WA, and obviously as a Western Australian Senator that is something that disappoints me, and I'm sure it disappoints the Federal Member for Swan, Steve Irons. But I think when you also look at the nature of the Western Australian economy,and the fact that we are in a transition, and this is certainly acknowledged by economists, we are going from the construction phase of the mining boom into the production phase. It is not
surprising that jobs are being shed.
What we need to focus though on is the positives; and in Western Australia the participation rate remains the highest participation rate of any state in Australia, and the participation rate in Western Australia is above the national average. So what that says is that West Australians are still encouraged, they are still putting up their hands and looking for work.
What we've also seen though in Western Australia is jobs growth in other parts of our economy. So for example in the health sector, in the services sector, in the tourism sector. So again, whilst yes, it is disappointing that our unemployment rate in Western Australia has increased, it does not come as a surprise, and our participation rate remains high.
QUESTION: Is it a surprise that it is the biggest job-lose rate on record, though?
MINISTER CASH: No again, not at all. We are a transitioning economy. And when you look at how many people in Western Australia were employed in past years when we were in that construction phase of the resources economy, when you look at what the level of unemployment was, say two years ago compared to today, it is not surprising that we have shed jobs, it is not surprising at all we are in a transitioning economy. But I think what you need to look at is the participation rate. Participation remains high, which means West Australians are putting their
hands up, they want to participate, and we are seeing jobs being created but in other sectors of the economy. That is a good thing. We are diversifying our economy, and we are creating jobs in other parts other than the resources sector.
QUESTION: How long do you think it will take before we come out of this, WA, and start seeing a rise in employment?
MINISTER CASH: Well, unfortunately I don't have a crystal ball. But what I can say is that this is a Federal Government that is focused on job creation. We are focused on growth. We are focused on increasing productivity. That is what this Government's agenda is all about. We are a Government that says how do we grow the Australian economy? And then we implement those policies which will do that.
So for example, we've implemented three free trade agreements. We also have signed up to the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. These are all about job creation. We've recently announced,and I know the Prime Minister is in Sydney at the moment talking about our $1.1 billion investment in innovation. So whilst I can't give you an exact answer as to when we will see that decrease, what I can say is, as a Federal Government, we acknowledge that what we need to do is create the opportunities for businesses to grow, and that is what our policies are focused on.
QUESTION: What specific industries have seen the biggest growth in job creation?
MINISTER CASH: In Western Australia?
MINISTER CASH: In Western Australia, very much the health services sector, the aged care sector, and tourism. So those sectors where we do know that opportunities are being created, particularly in terms of the free trade agreements going forward. So we are really transitioning from a resources-based economy to a services-based economy, and this is reflected in the jobs that are being created.
QUESTION: Is there any doubt about the veracity of the jobless rate, given the Federal Government's concerns about the reliability of the ABS?
MINISTER CASH: The Federal Government doesn’t have concerns about the reliability of the ABS. The Australian Bureau of Statistics, they are the official statistical analysts in Australia, and the head of the ABS has continued to say he relies on those figures, and he is very comfortable with them.
If you look at the overall trend though, so since we've been in Government, certainly job creation under this Government, the overall trend, is higher than the decade average. So even though you might see monthly figures jump around – and certainly they do, at the moment they are jumping around in the right direction and we are seeing a decrease in the unemployment rate – we do acknowledge that figures jump around, and that's why when you look at the overall trend this Government is certainly trending in the right direction when it comes to job creation. But again, compare the last two years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments, compared to the last two years of the Coalition Government, and you can see that we have created in the same period of time almost if not double the amount of jobs that. That is a good thing, and something that I hope is welcomed by Australians.
QUESTION: And will the Government rethink aspects [indistinct] mid-year economic and fiscal outlook [indistinct]?
MINISTER CASH: That is something that you’d need to speak to the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance about.
QUESTION: Why does South Australia continue to have such a high unemployment rate?
MINISTER CASH: Look I think the South Australian rate did drop this month, but again, figures do jump around and they do continue to have a high unemployment rate. From a Federal Government perspective, we need to ask ourselves what are we doing to ensure that there are opportunities in South Australia for job creation, and certainly it has been widely acknowledged that the signing in particular of the China free trade agreement is going to have significant opportunities for the wine industry in South Australia going forward. We are also as a Federal Government investing heavily in road infrastructure. When you invest in infrastructure, you create jobs. So from that Federal Government perspective, we are doing everything that we can to ensure that jobs are created. You’d then need to go and speak to the Labor Premier in South Australia as to why his level of unemployment remains so high and of concern.
QUESTION: I'm sure there are plenty of Western Australians looking at these figures today and find them quite concerning. Should they be worried about their jobs?
MINISTER CASH: Absolutely not. And again, look at the participation rate. If Western Australians were so concerned with the figures, you would not see the participation rate in Western Australia being the highest of any state in Australia and above the national average. I think Western Australians, out of all Australians, understand that we are a transitioning economy. Western Australians understand that we are a resources-based economy. They understand we are going from the construction phase into the production phase, and with that you do see a downturn in the number of jobs. But I think they also understand that you have a Government that is committed to diversification of the economy. You have a Government that is committed to job creation, and that is reflected in the participation rate in Western Australia.
That's it, thank you very much everybody. Thank you.