Release type: Transcript


Press Conference, July Labour Force Statistics, Perth WA


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia

SUBJECTS:   Labour force figures, Unemployment figures, part-time employment, Western Australian economy, asylum seeker resettlement, ABCC legislation, Senate cross-bench, joint sitting of Parliament.

MINISTER CASH:  We have just had the unemployment figures for July 2016 released.

The Government is pleased that we have seen a drop in the unemployment rate in Australia from 5.8% to 5.7%.

Total employment rose by 26,200 jobs in the month of July.

The Government is very pleased that total employment, male employment and female employment sit at record highs, at just under 12 million people.

In terms of employment growth, it currently sits at 1.9% this is above the long term average of 1.7%.

Since September 2013 in excess of half a million jobs have been created by employers.

Employers are putting their hands up and they are creating jobs.

In the last 12 months we have seen under this Government approximately 220,000 jobs created.

Compare that to the last 12 months of the former Labor Government, where approximately 86,000 jobs were created.

Under the Turnbull Government we are seeing strong job creation.

I do note the increase in employment this month was due to an increase in part time employment.

Part time employment represents a good form of employment for many people.

It represents a choice being made by so many, by students, by those with caring responsibilities, who want to be engaged in the work force but can’t on a full time basis.

Those who want to transition into retirement and reduce their number of working hours each week.

It also represents a choice made by so many who are now saying my work life balance needs to be put into order.

What we see with the Labor party and in particular Brendan O’Connor is that you mention the words part time employment and they demonise it.

I am not going to demonise part time employment. I am going to support it and applaud it. It does represent a good choice for so many people.

In relation to youth unemployment, the figure remains unacceptably high.

That is why the Government took to the election our $840 million comprehensive investment in getting our youth out of long term unemployment and into a job.

That is of course our PaTH programme. Getting our youth ready, giving them a go and getting them a job.

We acknowledge that too many youth in Australia don’t have jobs and we will everything in our power to ensure that they do.

You have a Government that recognises that governments don’t create jobs, employers do.

Governments do however create the framework in which employers operate.

You have a choice, you can create a framework in which employers grow, they prosper and they create more jobs.

Or you can do what Labor would like to do and create a framework which is inward looking which is going to ensure that employers don’t grow, don’t prosper and don’t create jobs.

That is why we took to the 2016 election our comprehensive plan for jobs and growth.

Everything this Government does is focused on growing our economy to ensure that we do deliver the jobs for the Australians in the future.

Any questions?

QUESTION: There is a place for part-time employment, yet is there a concern that these figures are skewed towards part time employment?

MINISTER CASH: We have faced global economic headwinds and if you compare the growth of our economy and the growth of other like-economies we are certainly doing a lot better.

Employers also have a choice. They can employ people or not.

I am pleased to see that employers are still putting up their hands and saying, “We want to create jobs. We want to employ people even if that is on a part time basis.”

So many people make the choice to work part-time; students, those with caring responsibilities, those transitioning to retirement. Those who are using part time work to showcase themselves to an employer, hopefully to get a part time job.

QUESTION: What about in WA, thousands more people do appear to have joined the jobless queues?

MINISTER CASH: As a Western Australian Senator I have seen this before when we have seen the unemployment rate rise in Western Australia, it is always disappointing and it has risen this month.

The Western Australian economy is a transitioning economy.

We have gone from that intensive investment in the mining construction phase and we are easing into a diversified economy and you see more jobs created in the retail and services sector.

I am not going to sit here and say I am pleased with it, because I am not.

That is why you need a government, in particular a national government that recognises that governments don’t create jobs, employers do. What we do is create that framework in which employers operate.

You saw the Prime Minister yesterday, giving his CEDA speech. He clearly articulated to the Australian people why our growth and jobs agenda is so important. Why our investment in science, technology, engineering and math, why our investment in defence.

Why our promise to small business that we are going to give you a tax cut?

Because we know when you stimulate small business, you stimulate the economy.

Why we aggressively pursue free trade agreements?

Everything this government does is focused on the economy and ensuring that employers are in a position to create more positions.

QUESTION: Just with WA and I know you say it’s a transitioning economy and diversifying but is it a concern for you that WA, that might not work? Diversifying, it’s been dependent on resources…

MINISTER CASH: The interesting point with Western Australia is that we have transitioned before.

We have gone from being heavily reliant on agriculture transitioning to being heavily reliant on mining.

We know that there is a transition and we are doing everything we can to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

That’s why you do see the increase in the retail jobs and the increase in the aged care sector.

It’s not great when you see an unemployment rate in your own state increase.

As a national Government we are focused on growth.  

QUESTION: Last night Premier Colin Barnett made some comments about asylum seekers saying this Government would be keen to see some of those families resettled in WA. Are you willing to see this happen?

MINISTER CASH: The Government’s position in relation to asylum seekers is very clear.

We are not changing our policy.

Our policy has ensured that for over 2 years now there has not been a boat arrival in Australia.

Our policy has ensured that people aren’t getting on boats and dying at sea.

Our policy is ensuring that those people who are in camps come to this country before those people who have the means and the opportunity to come here illegally.

Whilst Colin Barnett was making comments, he was making comments on a hypothetical situation because the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton have made it clear our policy is not changing.

QUESTION: Have his comments [inaudible] in discussion?

MINISTER CASH: No, he is entitled to make those comments.

Our response is our policy is not changing.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, I know we covered this with part time workers, do you think there would be a lot of people in part time work who would rather be in full time work Minister?

MINISTER CASH: Not necessarily, part time work is a legitimate choice for so many.

In particular female employment is at a record high.

There are many women that I have talked to who want to be able to stay at home, undertake their caring responsibilities but at the same time put their hand up and say I would like to engage in the workforce but not on a full time basis.

The last thing as a Government you ever want to see is choice taken away from both the employer and the employee.

Can you imagine if we had to say to students, to people with caring responsibilities, to people transitioning into retirement, the only mode of work for you is full-time and if you can’t do that, you can’t have a job.

That is not what this Government is about.

If you have a look at where the future of work is taking us, the way we work is changing.

We acknowledge that, society is acknowledging that.

Part time work will always remain a viable option for so many.

QUESTION:  Can I just ask you about the ABCC legislation, do you need a joint sitting to pass that legislation?

MINISTER CASH: In the first instance the law requires the ABCC, the trigger Bill and the Registered Organisations, the other trigger Bill, be put through the Parliament again.

The Prime Minister has articulated that when we resume we will again put the ABCC and the Registered Organisations legislation to the Parliament, the House of Representatives and it will then come up through the Senate.

We will see what happens in the Senate.

It is only if the Bills do not pass through the Parliament that you then can go down the path of a joint sitting.

There is a process that we will first need to go through.

Can I say in relation to the ABCC, this is all about cleaning up the building and construction industry.

As the Minister for Women, I want to see more women more young women in particular, put their hands up and say, I want to go into a particularly male dominated industry.

How can I say to those women I encourage that choice when you see the bullying, thuggery and intimidation in this industry?

Then of course there is the cost of public infrastructure. This Government says it is unacceptable because the CFMEU has a stranglehold on the building and construction industry, that every hospital you see, every road you see and every school you see is costing the Australian taxpayer up to 30% more.

I cannot see how Labor can continue to stand side-by-side with the CFMEU in terms of those two aspects in particular.

Let’s clean up the industry, that’s all we want to do and let’s bring down the cost of public infrastructure so as a Government we can get the little man on side.

Let’s open up the building industry to the small and medium businesses.

I am all for that because I support small business.

Let’s also ensure that when you’re spending taxpayer’s funds, you spend them appropriately and effectively.

Let’s reduce those costs and let’s build more schools and more roads and more hospitals.

That’s what we are about.

QUESTION:  How hard is the passage of this legislation going to be?

MINISTER CASH: I am currently in discussions with a number of the cross benchers as you’d be aware.

We have a number of new cross benchers.

I am sitting down with them and I am taking them through the legislation.

QUESTION:  [inaudible]

MINISTER CASH: I would hope that in terms of cleaning up the building and construction industry, getting rid of the rampant bullying, intimidation and thuggery.

Also reducing the cost of public infrastructure, that it’s not just the cross bench, that the Greens and Labor would put up their hands and say, “You know you’re right, it’s unacceptable what’s going on, and we will support the Government.”

QUESTION:  Are these new cross benchers being quite open in these discussions?

MINISTER CASH: I have been very pleased that they have sat down and engaged with me very seriously.

I have also said that I don’t propose to be a commentator in relation to those discussions, a lot of them are private discussions, as you would expect I am sitting down with the cross bench.

Thank you very much.