Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview – 8CCC Alice Springs Big Brekky with Andy

Ministers:

The Hon Luke Howarth MP
Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services

SUBJECT/S: JOBS FAIR IN ALICE SPRINGS

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

ANDREW HARRISON:

Guys, we have in the studio with us, we've got the Honourable Luke Howarth MP and Federal Minister for Petrie and Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment as well in the studio with us here today to open and be – present the Alice Springs Job Fair. Thanks, Minister, for coming on the Brekky show. Can you give us some more detail?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, thanks very much. Good morning, everybody. It's wonderful to be here in Alice Springs. As you said, my name’s Luke Howarth, I’m from Brisbane, and Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment. But my first time in Alice Springs. What a wonderful community it is. I got off the plane on Sunday and was greeted by a flock of zebra finches, which we don't see on the East Coast so often. 

So, really good to be with you today, but we're very excited, the Australian Government, about the Jobs Fair on today at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, down at 93 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs. Free buses to get people there today – just say you're going to the Jobs Fair and you can go straight there. But it's a wonderful opportunity for anyone looking for work or looking to change careers, or to get back into the workforce to find a job today with over 600 jobs on offer and 30 exhibitors there. Really good opportunity. Make sure you get along today.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

It's very exciting. We've been plugging it all week for you. It's really – and welcome, Luke. Welcome to Alice Springs. And…

LUKE HOWARTH:

[Talks over] Thank you. Wonderful to be here. What a great community.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

… and zebra finches. The birdlife here is remarkable.

LUKE HOWARTH:

They are. They are remarkable. I've seen them, a lot of lizards running around as well, so I couldn't but help notice the water in the Todd River. So, it seems like a wonderful time to be here. I met a few community and business leaders yesterday out at the Alice Springs Golf Club, and I'm not sure the name of the mountain, but just what a wonderful backdrop looking, looking back there as well at sunset. So, really pleased to be here.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

It is extraordinary. And I'm wondering, at the Jobs Fair – which is a really great initiative, thanks for bringing it to Alice Springs – I'm wondering, are the Defence Forces there?

LUKE HOWARTH:

The Defence Force is there, the Australian Defence Force. So, you'll learn about the opportunities in Army, Navy and Air Force, including the opportunities to get a trade. So, I know the Australian Defence Force are looking for tradespeople and to provide wonderful training. There's also opportunities for those people thinking about going to university as well to become an officer in the Army or Air Force or Navy. And you know, basically you get your HECS all paid for; you get your university degree; but then, you also become an officer in the Australian Defence Force. And there's a lot of men and women that do it. One of the great things that federal Members of Parliament, like myself, get to do each year is spend some time with the Defence Force. And they're wonderful men and women that are serving our country and doing a great job. So, I'd encourage people to join. They will be there today.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Yeah. Thanks for letting us know. We were talking about that with the Jobs Fair coming, particularly with Remembrance Day the other day, we were reflecting on, oh, I wonder if the Defence Force is going to be down there? So that's great to know. 

ADAM GOODREM:

Yeah. And we do have a unique set of circumstances in – especially in the Centre that there seems to be a quite a lot of jobs on offer and not enough people to fill them. So, is there a conversation around that? 

LUKE HOWARTH:

It's a, it's a great question. It's not just unique to Alice Springs and the Centre of Australia. 

ADAM GOODREM:

Yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

I'm finding that on the coastline throughout different states as well, during COVID-19 we lost some 500,000 skilled workers that were living in Australia from overseas – they went back home…

ADAM GOODREM:

Yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

… and that's created the job shortage. We've also seen with different state and territory lockdowns too, some people just disengaged from actively looking at the moment, because of the disruption. 

ADAM GOODREM:

Yup. Yup.

LUKE HOWARTH:

And so, what that is meaning is that employers, and small business owners, and large business owners are just really short of workers. And I was saying to a group of young people yesterday – I was out at a Transition to Work provider here in Alice Springs, and there was a young man I met there, a great young guy who's just got a job as a chef after being unemployed for many years and is earning good money now – but there's never been a better opportunity to find work right now. 
And so, I want to say to your listeners, no matter what your circumstances are, whether you've, as I said, you're a parent coming back into the workforce, you're looking to change careers – you might have been unemployed for 15 years – it's never too late. I met a lady yesterday who actually said to me, look, I feel like I get a bit discriminated against because I've, I’ve got a criminal history. And I said, look, you can't help the way other people will respond, but you might get nine or 10 knockbacks and then on the eleventh go someone might say, look, I'm going to give you a go. You've done your time; you want to change your life. That's why we have probationary periods as well. So, I encourage employers to give people a go. 

MICHELLE PETTIT:

That’s true. That’s, yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Right now, we have a shortage and there's people that want to work. The Australian Government, the Morrison Government, is providing good opportunities for training and helping people become job ready. As I said, I was out at Karen Sheldon yesterday, TTW and Steps as well, and a lot of those services will be at the Jobs Fair today. So, if people haven't worked, one of the great things today at the Jobs Fair is there'll be free resume writing techniques. So, people often apply for jobs, but they don't get interviews. 

ADAM GOODREM:

Yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

And that can mean there's a problem with the resume. 

ADAM GOODREM:

Yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

And sometimes it's better to provide a little less information. Talk about your local connections. You might’ve lived in Alice Springs all your life; you've had a good network of people that you know – that would be important for business owners to be able to tap into that network so you can bring more people to the business. 

ADAM GOODREM:

Yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

So, yeah, it is a – it definitely is an issue. But I think the opportunity for small and medium businesses now is to give perhaps people that haven't worked for a while, that want to work, an opportunity. Give them a go, put them on probation and see how they perform. 

ADAM GOODREM:

And I think people who – job seekers, or potential job seekers, should be aware like there is a lot of choice now. So, employers probably don't want you to know but you can be a little bit choosy, because there's a lot of opportunity out there. And Alice Springs, it does also have a lot of people who are trying something new in a way they might not do if they were living somewhere else. But there's a lot of choice and you can step even, you know, skill up in a new area if there's opportunities there. 

LUKE HOWARTH:

Absolutely. The Government, the Australian Government at the moment is doing a partnership with the states and territories called JobTrainer where people can get good skills, and its basically low fee or free training. So, we're putting millions of dollars into that and the states are matching that. We've also got local job providers that are tapping in with different industries within Alice Springs and Central Australia and trying to connect them with job seekers. And then we've got another organisation as well that is Industry Training Hubs – it's the 10th one in Australia that the Morrison Government’s rolled out, it's just opened in Alice Springs. And what that's about is tapping into local school students and connecting them with trades and VET opportunities – Vocational Education Training. But yeah, so. 

MICHELLE PETTIT:

And Luke, as a member of the Australian Parliament, I'm wondering as I work with NDIS participants and other people as well … 

LUKE HOWARTH:

[Talks over] Yes.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

… the broader community, in my small business. I'm just wondering with some of the service providers, as in job seeking service providers, that support people with disabilities and the broader community, how are they made accountable for, maybe, their service to the people? So, in other words, they can be a little bit lacksadaisy sometimes, yet still drawing down sort of things. So how do we make those people accountable to be more proactive in actually placing all forms of life into a work-related environment?

LUKE HOWARTH:

No, that's a great question, and we obviously invest a lot of taxpayers' money in this – in these services. So, we want to make sure the service providers are delivering. 

MICHELLE PETTIT:

How do you do that? 

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, we do have KPIs and we have, obviously, monthly reporting to make sure how many people are placed in work. And often the payments that come are delivered at the back end, so, when they've been in jobs for six months. So it's not like everyone gets paid straight up front, the providers when the job is placed and then a week later they get turfed, and that's not the way it works. A lot of the funding that comes, they'll get a placement fee and then further payments months down the track, including at six months. So that's important as well. Does that make sense? 

MICHELLE PETTIT:

It does make sense. I'm just wondering, in a sense, for me, my clarity for me, is people who might have an agreement to do that job placement, do that job placement arrangement and actually servicing it. Actually putting it to action. 

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yes, yeah.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

And you know, like it's easy to just let that little stream of income flow. But what are they doing?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Absolutely. Well, I mean, obviously, in all these services, you're at the whim of each individual, right? And there's literally, you know, hundreds of thousands of people around Australia that are employed in government services – some will perform better than other. I know the Minister, the Honourable Stuart Robert MP, very much looks at the data and holds people accountable through the department as well. So at the moment, we have contracts that have just gone out for Transition to Work, the New Employment Services Model and – sorry.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

No, that's okay. Thanks. I'm just enjoying this conversation and conscious, conscious of our timeline. 

LUKE HOWARTH:

No. You’re right. Yep. Yes.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

I'm trying to get as much out of your scone, Luke, as I can.

LUKE HOWARTH:

No, you're right.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

So, I'm just wondering also, do those people – and I'm learning, too.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yes.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

So those people that are providing opportunity – workplace opportunities – the employment agency style I'm looking at – do they have a timeline in which to place their candidates or their people on, you know, the people that they're – that are being – they’re being paid for?

LUKE HOWARTH:

There's not exactly a timeline, so to speak, because if people are unemployed they can be at varying stages. So, during COVID, we've seen a lot of people come onto the JobSeeker payment within the last 12 months, but then you've got other people that have been unemployed for years. But what the Government does is, through the New Employment Services Model that we have out for tender at the moment, we're actually giving more support to people that are longer term unemployed – more personalised support. And the ones that have perhaps been recently unemployed that might have good digital skills, there's also opportunities for them to find work online as well. So, we're trying to cater for all people.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

[Talks over] I wonder if you go – sure. I wonder if you go back to the team, the national team, I'm just wondering if there's any opportunity – yes, Adam. Adam’s giving me a little windy there. Just quickly, if you go back to your national team, you know, Mr Morrison and…

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yes.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

… and, everybody, maybe throwing it on the table that we all know that Northern Territory is incredibly unique and it's a very different place. I'm wondering if, moving forward, we get lots of grants, all those sorts of things here – but actually creating and developing a real hands-on place where people can go back to our forefathers and learn how to be drovers, and do fences, and cattlemen, and all that sort of stuff – educate them in the land that we know and love. And it's not always about having an inner-city urban style environment, when loads of people could work hands on. Yes.

LUKE HOWARTH:

No, you're right. I just would mention one thing that the Morrison Government, the Australian Government has an AgMove…

ANDREW HARRISON:

[Interrupts] Hang on. Can I, can I just jump in here? 

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Two seconds.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah, you’re right. You go for it.

ADAM GOODREM:

Answer. He’s answering the question.

ANDREW HARRISON:

Sorry. Can I just jump in here?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah, you go.

ANDREW HARRISON:

Sorry. Michelle, I was, I was listening to what you were saying, Michelle, about, you know, training people out, you know, building fences out, out on cattle stations and all that sort of thing. Michelle?

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Yes, Andrew?

ANDREW HARRISON:

I think we're getting a bit off, off track there. I think we're throwing it a bit off, off track. They’re trying – he’s talking about employment and I don't think cattle stations got anything to do with employment.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Andrew? Andrew? We’re…

ADAM GOODREM:

Maybe that's not entirely correct, Andrew, but maybe we should let Luke answer the question.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, I was just going to say thank you for the questions, everyone. I was just – there is a, an incentive for agriculture moves to try and get more people into the Centre of Australia, into regional areas and remote areas. So basically, if someone wanted to be a drover, as you were saying, or working on a farm.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Put some fence posts in.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Put some fence posts, fence posts in.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Cause they haven't got the – you know, they're not going to school, but they could put a fence post in.

LUKE HOWARTH:

There's actually some incentives for people to move here. So, you know, $1000 up front, and then if they're employed for a few months as further payments for – to get people out. But what it's about is trying to get people that are perhaps, through COVID, looking at changing their lives. Going, you know what? Let's get into regional Australia. Let's get into the remote Centre of Australia. It's a beautiful part of the world. 
I know in Queensland, in my state as well, that there's a lot of Victorians moving up at the moment that have said: hey, I want to get a bit further north. I think it'd be a great opportunity as well for the Northern Territory to promote the brilliant lifestyle that's available here in the Centre of Australia in Alice Springs.

But I – can I just touch on one thing – getting back to Andrew's question about jobs. There is a lot of jobs on offer. I know McDonalds Alice Springs have crew members and shift supervisors. Link-Up Australia is looking for registered nurses. You've got Double Tree Hilton who are after administration officers and front office attendants. So they just need someone that can smile and offer great customer service, food and beverage service supervisors and waiters. So there's a lot of opportunities. Alice Springs Shopping Centre are after retail staff to just serve and give great customer service, and administration staff. Wilson Security, if anyone's thinking about becoming a security officer or a patrol officer, there’s those jobs are on offer today. Saltbush Employment Services are after support workers. And getting back to your question about people with a disability and aged care, great opportunity if you're a caring person. We can learn a lot from older Australians to work in aged care and with people with a disability – we're after caring people. So perhaps that's you. You've got a great heart. You want to talk to people and help people. Then there's a lot of jobs on offer in that space today as well.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

We spout a lot on the show, on Andy's Big Brekky show about jobs every week, and all the time Coles, Woolies, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, they're all looking for them - the Hilton. There's loads of opportunity for support workers. We have a bit of a trick with people on the ground. So the invitation to go to the Convention Centre today, along with, along with all of the other agencies, including the Defence Forces, there's lots of opportunities out there. Go and see how you can become qualified, or how you can find your place in the beautiful community in Alice Springs. Don't forget, free buses are running all over town and you can get there free of charge. Ride a bike. Alice Springs isn't that big. We always say that, don't we, fellas?

ADAM GOODREM:

Yes.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Ride a bike. Go for a walk. You can get across the Todd now. And what a miracle, Luke, that you've been here while the Todd’s running.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah, it's been brilliant, been brilliant. I didn't actually know that it was running until Wednesday. I was, I was actually looking at Jacinta Price’s Facebook page, who I follow, and she put up a really good post on the Todd River running. And so I was excited to come out here, but it had stopped running as fast by the time I got here, so I was surprised how quickly that it falls away. You know, between Wednesday and Sunday, it had pretty well stopped flowing. But there's still a lot of water sitting in the Todd River, and we had a good look at it yesterday, which was, which was awesome.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Did they tell you the story of Centralia? If you see the Todd River running three times while you're here…

LUKE HOWARTH:

You're a local then. You've been here a long time.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Birthright. Birthright. You've got birthright. And you probably won't leave. Andy.

LUKE HOWARTH:

[Talks over] Yeah. So, yeah. You’re very fortunate.

ANDREW HARRISON:

Hey, Luke, I was just wondering-

ADAM GOODREM:

All right. We, we are so out of time. We have to stop now, Andy.

ANDREW HARRISON:

Sorry, can I just throw one last question?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Sure, sure.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

It’s got to be a quickie.

ANDREW HARRISON:

Luke, like in Victoria up in Melbourne, you know have the numbers going up every day in Melbourne with the, with the COVID-19? Luke, how are people meant to get back into, into the workforce after they've been, after they’ve been out of business, and out of work for months on end? Because, because Melbourne’s been in lockdown for months and people have been out of work? How are they meant to get back into the workforce after they’ve been sitting home for months on end?

ADAM GOODREM:

Hey, what about? How’s? What about? Andy? Andy?

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Hey Andy? Andy? Andy? They got to go to the Convention Centre.

ADAM GOODREM:

Are you around – how long are you in town for, Luke?

LUKE HOWARTH:

I’m, I'm not actually here that long. Just the two days, unfortunately.

ADAM GOODREM:

Okay. So you can't come back tomorrow and answer another 27 questions?

LUKE HOWARTH:

I can't, but I'll definitely come back again at some stage. I know my, my wife is keen to come back and have a good look around the place and see the Centre. But just quickly…

MICHELLE PETTIT:

On the phone.

LUKE HOWARTH:

…obviously during COVID, we’ve helped with JobKeeper to help businesses, which has kept a lot of people in work. But now, we're finding jobs roaring back in Victoria…

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Yeah.

LUKE HOWARTH:

… as you spoke about, and New South Wales. The unemployment figures went up during lockdown. Now that they're coming out of lockdown and the vaccine rollout is going stronger, jobs are coming back. But great, finally, anyone who's looking for work, get to the Jobs Fair today. Take any job that's on offer, because often when you're employed, you know, the full-time wages, you know, double what it is on JobSeeker or something. So there's great opportunities there. And if you hold that job down for a while, that will lead to further opportunities. So I'll be there this morning. Come and say, g’day. I'd love to see you.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

We might have to get some sort of wellbeing course going to get people off their dot. You know, they’re…

ADAM GOODREM:

[Talks over] That’s [indistinct] we’re doing.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Life’s become, life’s become so cushy.

ADAM GOODREM:

Providing people [indistinct]…

MICHELLE PETTIT:

Life’s become so cushy. It's a bit, you know, getting that momentum to get off your dot, get into the workplace.

ANDREW HARRISON:

[Talks over] Alright, guys…

ADAM GOODREM:

So, the Jobs Fair today at the Convention Centre, 10 to 3.30. Is that right?

LUKE HOWARTH:

10.30 to 3, I think.

MICHELLE PETTIT:

[Talks over] And it’s free. Getting it all for nothing.

ADAM GOODREM:

People there, people there to help you brush up your resume. 

ANDREW HARRISON:

[Talks over] Alright, guys.

ADAM GOODREM:

Andy. People there to help you brush up your resume and find you someone to talk to about getting a job or skilling up to get you a better job. And get there…

MICHELLE PETTIT:

[Talks over] Any way you can. Bus, walk, bike.

ADAM GOODREM:

…and meet some interesting people, including Luke Howarth MP. Thank you for joining us this morning, Luke, on the Big Brekky.

ANDREW HARRISON:

Yeah, thanks for joining us on the Big Brekky show.