Release type: Transcript

Date:

Doorstop - Broadwater Parklands, Southport, Gold Coast

Ministers:

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business

Topics: vaccination rollout; Queensland COVID-19 plan.

E&OE-------------------------------------

MINISTER ROBERT:

It is a great pleasure to today announce that yesterday, the nation had a record level of vaccinations with over 350,000 Australians vaccinated. It has seen the first dose for the country for over 16s at 80.5% which is extraordinarily pleasing as we move rapidly towards phase B and phase C of the national plan. 

We've also in seen response to that the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor, coming out forecasting in New South Wales and Victoria where those premiers have outlined a strong plan for how their states will come out, the Reserve Bank Governor forecasting strong jobs growth, and a very strong resurgence in employment, which is encouraging businesses to start planning for what that looks like as we move through 80% and beyond towards Christmas.

It's an opportunity for small businesses to prepare for that expanded consumption leading into Christmas, and also an opportunity for us to all work together. Small business, big business consumers, associations, the union movement, all of us to move forward and work together peacefully, to work together sensibly as we come out of COVID. 

It's also an opportunity for all premiers to outline exactly what their plans for reopening are. New South Wales and Victoria have outlined their plans and in response the Reserve Bank Governor has stated jobs growth will follow. 

Here in Queensland, we don't have a plan, there is no certainty, I can't stand here today and tell you what the Queensland Premier’s plan is for reopening and that leads to a lack of certainty and a lack of confidence. The Reserve Bank Governor wasn't speaking about jobs growth in Queensland, unfortunately, only about growth in Victoria and New South Wales, because there is a clear plan out.

My plea to the Premier of Queensland is, Premier, you committed a number of weeks ago to lay out a plan so all Queenslanders can see what the plan is through 70 and 80% of the national plan is.

Premier enough distractions, Queenslanders deserve to know a plan for how we're moving forward.

QUESTION:

Queensland vaccination rates remain much lower than the rest of the country, what share of responsibility does the Federal Government take in relation to those?

MINISTER ROBERT:

There is no shortage of vaccinations, none at all, no shortage of places, the Queensland Government has had 18 months to prepare for this moment. You're seeing vaccination rates in the ACT in the low 90s, you're seeing vaccination rates in Victoria and New South Wales, in the 80s, with a national first dose rate of over 80%, and yet Queensland's got a six in front of it. This is Queensland's responsibility.

Yesterday 350,000 doses, two thirds of those were delivered by outlets, through the federal government. 

This is a Queensland State Government issue, that they've got to get a hold of.

QUESTION:

The Premier has raised the issue of booster shots where is that at in the national plan? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

ATAGI’s advice is still coming forward, except the Premier has raised lots of things it's booster shots it's hospital funding, if we want to reach the same number of doses as the ACT. I don't know what distraction is coming next, but enough. Premier. Enough distractions. 

The other major states and territories have outlined plans for moving forward in line with a national plan. Is it too much for Queenslanders to expect the Premier of Queensland to do the same? 

QUESTION:

So, in terms of booster shots that is still will ATAGI, is that right? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

ATAGI advice is still yet to come forward on booster shots.

QUESTION:

I could ask a question on another matter. What should Australia do if Taiwan is attacked? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

These are hypothetical matters and we don't go into those. Australia's position in terms of Australia's one China policy is well known and the Prime Minister will address and speak to any major national security issues. 

QUESTION:

One more if I may, if the US helped Taiwan should Australia enact the ANZUS Treaty?

MINISTER ROBERT:

And again they are hypotheticals, we don't go into that. Our job as a nation, in our region is to work cooperatively with our region, which is exactly what we're doing.

QUESTION:

Sally McManus has announced the ramp up of industrial action. What do you make of that?

MINISTER ROBERT:

It is extraordinary, isn't it? In that we are coming to the end of a one in 100 year pandemic, families have been broken apart, we've seen economic chaos across our borders as communities are separated, families with loved ones separated in hospital, and the union movement response to that is disorder and chaos. 

Are you kidding me? 

The message is for us to work together, Australians want us to work together. 

We are weeks away now from reaching phases B and C of our national plan, the opportunity for our nation to come forward strongly. The Prime Minister has already announced in November we'll be opening international borders for travel. This is a time for us to come together as a country it is not the time for the union movement to try and throw havoc into it. It is very disappointing. 

QUESTION:

But what can you do to protect jobs? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

The key thing is a strong plan, a national plan gives it gives certainty which leads to confidence. We need Queensland to come out and the premier to announce what other premiers across the country have done, and announce their path out. 

Certainty will give confidence for jobs. We've seen every time a lockdown is pulled back. We’ve seen unemployment come down. A month and a half ago, we saw over 130,000 more jobs in the economy in pre-COVID, the only industrialised nation on Earth that has got more of its citizens employed now than pre pandemic. So the strong path forward for jobs is already there, as long as we stick to the national plan. 

QUESTION:

The banking regulators today announced tougher tests for home loans wont this just make it harder for first home buyers and increase inequality in the market? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

Pleasingly you've seen a lot of first-time buyers come into the market. And APRA of course backed by the Australian financial regulators have come forward and announced a package that is sensible, in terms of their prudential standards. It's all designed to ensure that our housing market continues sensibly and doesn't overheat. So we support wholeheartedly what APRA have done announced today. 

QUESTION:
And can the government promise it will set up a national integrity commission before the next election? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

The government's position on this is well known we've committed to setting up a commission. The consultation process has been extensive over 333 submissions, and the government's moving forward, as we said we would. 

QUESTION:
Why has it taken three years?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Because the consultation process has been ongoing, people have wanted to have their say and they've been having their say. Over 333 submissions of people putting forward a view as to how it should be operating. 

QUESTION:

When will skilled migrants come back to Australia? How important are they to our economy? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

Skilled migrants are essential. We are down a couple hundred thousand students, which of course all have work rights. 15% of our hospitality industry is serviced in worktime by non-Australians, by skilled migrants and of course our net overseas migration is down upwards of 400,000. So we are down substantial numbers of overseas workers, especially when it comes to skilled workers. So as soon as we can get those borders opening, the better, for the national economy, but at the same time, there are 700,000 Australians on a primary payment being jobseeker, Youth Allowance or Youth Allowance. 

There has never been a better time to employ an Australian, there's never been a better time to give a young Australian a go. There are 100,000 Australians aged 15 to 22 on Youth Allowance other, so they're not in substantial training or working, never been a better time to employ Australians, especially as we start to see some of these skilled workforce challenges that the Reserve Bank Governor was speaking about today and I encourage businesses to plan, prepare and give a young Australian a crack.

QUESTION:

Just one more can you guarantee that people in New South Wales who are currently on Disaster Payments will get their jobs back when the state hits 80%?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We’ve announced that once we move to Phase C, so double-dose at 80%, we will start to ramp down the COVID disaster payments, the first week down to 450 to 320 and then, of course, the automatic stabilisers kick in. 

But the key thing that Dr. Lowe was saying today, the Reserve Bank Governor, is there is enormous demand, he's expecting a huge surge in opportunities, in workforce opportunities, the number of jobs available right now is 46.5% higher than pre-COVID. So you're seeing an enormous opportunity for Australians to get a job. There’s 700,000 Australians on payment, there has never been a better time to employ in Australia and for Australians, it's never been a better time to get into work.

Thank you.