SUBJECT/S: Independent Inquiry, South Australia Coronial Inquiry, Boosting Apprentice Commencements Wage Subsidy.
ALLY LANGDON: Joining us in Sydney is Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash. Good morning to you, Minister. Do you still have a massive problem with misogyny in parliament as evidenced by what Julie said last night?
MICHAELIA CASH: Well, I didn't see Julie Bishop's comments last night, but that is also why we have undertaken an independent inquiry into, as you know, the workplace issues within Parliament House. We have Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner looking at those issues, and I look forward to the report that she eventually brings down.
ALLY LANGDON: How do you fix this problem though when you have so few women in positions of power in Canberra?
MICHAELIA CASH: Well, we do have more and more women attaining positions of power in Canberra. The workplace should always be one which is respected. And that’s why, with the recent allegations that have been made, the Government has initiated the inquiry into workplace culture within Parliament House. And I, as I said, I look forward to the inquiry that Kate Jenkins, in particular, will be conducting as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. She is extremely highly regarded across Australia in terms of the work that she has done and does do within workplaces. And I look forward to seeing the report that she hands down, so that we can take positive action to address what are workplace culture issues within Parliament House.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Julie Bishop also said that there should be an inquest into rape allegations. You’d welcome that too, wouldn't you?
MICHAELIA CASH: My understanding is the South Australian Coroner is, at this point in time, looking at the matter - that is the appropriate place for this matter to be. As you know, the New South Wales Police, they have said they are not pursuing the matter any further. Once the police have closed an issue like this, that is actually where the matter stops. If the South Australian Coroner, of course, decides to take further action, that is a decision for the South Australian Coroner.
ALLY LANGDON: The issue you have here is that the issue doesn't stop, just because a police investigation has concluded. So, if it’s not an inquest that South Australia launched, does it need to be an independent inquiry?
MICHAELIA CASH: No, and I think I have answered your question in terms of the police are the appropriate body charged with pursuing, if they so choose, matters such as this. The New South Wales Police have made it very clear - the matter is closed; they are not pursuing it any further. In terms of any coronial inquiry, that is up to the South Australian Coroner, whom I understand is currently looking at the matter and will make a decision in due course.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Michaelia, Josh Frydenberg was on our show just a short time ago saying, expect it to get a little bit rough when JobKeeper comes off. You’re announcing $1.2 billion for new apprenticeships and trainees today. How much will that ease the burden?
MICHAELIA CASH: Well, certainly the Government is focussed on creating as many employment opportunities as we can. And last year, as you know, we announced that we would create, within about a 12-month period, 100,000 new apprenticeship commencements. We actually have done that, and I’d like to thank all of the employers out there who took on new apprentices in less than five months. And that is why today the Government is announcing the extension of the apprentice or the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy.
You can now, If you sign up before 30 September this year, will get a full 12 months of a 50 per cent wage subsidy. We created 100,000 new commencements in less than five months, we look forward to now creating even more. 70,000 is the expectation, but I’d like to see as many as possible. Because we are focussed on, as a Government, doing what we can to get more people into work, and certainly the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements wage subsidy has shown it is a proven way to do that. 100,000 new commencements in less than five months, and that is why $1.2 billion is being announced today - an extension of that wage subsidy.
ALLY LANGDON: I think this is a great initiative, Minister. It is going to help a lot more young men than women though. What are you doing for girls?
MICHAELIA CASH: Well at the moment, in terms of that 100,000, it is just under a 60-40 per cent break down. So, I think it’s around 36 per cent of the new commencements have been women. That is actually above what you’d normally see – so, certainly that is a good thing. And around, I think it’s about 60 per cent have gone to people who are under the age of 24 or less. So it is a great initiative for youth. Pleasingly, for people my age, 8 per cent have actually gone to people 45 and over.
So again, this is about creating as many employment opportunities, new employment opportunities as we can across Australia. And the 100,000 in less than five months, again, I would just like to thank every business out there who has put their hand up, taken on a new apprentice or trainee. But also say to all other businesses - because it is any size, any region - put your hand up - it is a full 12 months, 50 per cent wage subsidy. Sign up before 30 September this year. And I look forward, as part of the Morrison Government, to creating even more employment opportunities for everybody across Australia.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, good on you. Thank you for being with us, Michaelia. Appreciate it. We’re going to need all the help we can get over the next couple of months, it’s going to be a bit rough. Thank you.
MICHAELIA CASH: Thank you. Thanks for having me.