Release type: Transcript


Press conference on Labour Force figures


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, participation rates, electoral brief form.

MINISTER CASH: Good afternoon everybody. The latest jobs figures have just been released and they show that for February there has been a decrease in the unemployment rate in Australia from 6 per cent to 5.8 per cent. The Government believes that this shows that there continues to be an underlying strength in the Australian economy.

If we can compare the unemployment rate in February to what it was 12 months ago, it was 6.3 per cent so it is certainly trending in the right direction. In terms of job creation, over the last 12 months this Government has created almost 240,000 jobs. That is an employment increase, or an increase in the job numbers, of 2.1 per cent. Compare that to the long-term trend of employment growth of 1.8 per cent and, again, we are heading in the right direction.

In terms of job creation under the former Labor government, in the last 12 months of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, there were approximately 85,000 jobs created. So, on a government to government comparison, for every three jobs that this Government is creating the former Labor government only created one job. This Government understands that there is still more work to do in terms of job creation, however, we have a plan and we are implementing that plan.

Our plan is all about growing the economy so that business and industry can create jobs for Australians. And the plan of course involves innovation, an in excess of $1 billion investment in innovation, a record investment in infrastructure, and of course, opening up the market.

So again, the unemployment rate today, 6 per cent down to 5.8 per cent, compared to 12 months ago, 6.3 per cent, so certainly heading in the right direction. It does demonstrate the underlying strength in the Australian economy. But I think all Australians will be very pleased to know that under this Government, in the last 12 months we have seen almost 240,000 jobs created. But we’re not going to stop, we’re going to continue implementing our plan, and we are going to continue to ensure that Australia grows.

Any questions?

QUESTION:     Minister, you must be concerned though with the unemployment rate in South Australia at 7.7 per cent, it’s almost up a per cent on January.

MINISTER CASH:     And again that is why, when you look at it from the Commonwealth Government’s perspective, for example, we’ve just had an announcement in relation to a defence facility in South Australia. That’s a huge investment, in excess I think of over $200 million over ten years. We’re certainly investing in roads in South Australia. So to the extent that we can, we are ensuring that we take steps to invest in what will be long-term job creation policies. You’ve then got to ask the South Australian Government, obviously, what’s their plan for South Australia?

QUESTION:     Brendan O’Connor, just a few minutes ago, said that the Government isn’t doing enough to help South Australia. He’s saying Adelaide is essentially Burnie [Tasmania] because it hasn’t got this job creation actually happening.

MINISTER CASH:     Well I’m going to disagree with Mr O’Connor. Again, this is a Government that understands it sets the framework in which business and industry operate. Governments don’t create jobs, business and industry do. As a Government we need to implement job-creating policies, so you look at what this Government is doing – infrastructure investment, innovation investment, free trade agreements being signed, signing on to the Trans Pacific Partnership. We are doing everything we can to grow the economy. And in particular within South Australia, you look at our investment in the roads, but also the China Free Trade Agreement and the wine industry. There are some huge opportunities for South Australians going forward.

QUESTION:     How about he participation rate? It’s a bit of a decrease. It would suggest that people aren’t confident of finding a job even if they’re out looking.

MINISTER CASH:     The participation rate, when you compare it to the 12 month average, is still higher than what it was 12 months ago. So that is a good thing. But in particular, when you look at the creation of full-time jobs this month, – which was approximately 15,900 full-time positions created – what that says to me is employers have confidence and they are putting their hands up and they are creating full-time positions, and that is a very good thing. Confidence from the business community in the Australian economy is what this Government is all about.

QUESTION:     But they were offset by those 15,600 part-time jobs.

MINISTER CASH:     Again, though, you want to see full-time positions being created. And certainly, I think even the Labor party would acknowledge that we want to see more full-time positions being created, but again, the comparison is this: the last 12 months of this Government 240,000 jobs created; compare that to the last 12 months of Labor - approximately 85,000. So, we’re creating three jobs to every one job they created and that’s because we have a plan – innovation, investment, infrastructure and open markets.

QUESTION:     Minister, the Senate has been a little bit untidy the last couple of days. Are you the full bottle of what’s happened today and yesterday? Do you understand everything that’s occurred?

MINISTER CASH:     My understanding is we are debating senate electoral brief form, and that is what we’re doing.

QUESTION:     Well we’ve debated everything from type one diabetes to same sex marriage during the day as well. Is someone in charge at all or what’s happening?

MINISTER CASH:     Absolutely. I think the Government has made it very clear our priority for this week is electoral brief form. I haven’t seen any messiness. I’ve seen a Government that’s getting on with the job that it set itself. And that’s what we’re doing – it’s an important priority for this Government. Our motion to extend hours was put through. We have sat late two nights this week and will sit late again tonight. And I would certainly hope that a major piece of legislation that is going to reform the voting system in Australia will go through tonight. That is a great step forward for the Australian people because this is all about empowering them and giving them the right to determine where their preferences go. That’s a good thing.

QUESTION:     Is there a division in the Coalition ranks over the Safe Schools program?

MINISTER CASH:     Well certainly there’s a difference of opinion. And again, as a political party we will never shy away from that that we celebrate a difference of opinion. We are currently looking at the Safe School program and Minister Birmingham has said he will be releasing a review to public. And we will have a look at the outcome of the review.

We don’t shy away from differences of opinion in our party. We celebrate them, we work through them and then we make decisions.

Thank you very much.