Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview — 2GB Breakfast with Ben Fordham

Ministers:

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

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

BEN FORDHAM:

On the line, Stuart Robert, the Federal Minister for Employment and Small Business. Minister, good morning to you.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Ben, how are you, sir? 

BEN FORDHAM:

I'm doing well. How disappointing is it that, when you've got someone like Brett who advertised the same job back in 2018 and had 400 applications. Fast-forward to 2022, no one wants it. 

MINISTER ROBERT:

Yeah. It's both good and bad - good that there is enough work around for everyone who wants it, bad in that it's getting difficult to get staff. 

Now I’d say to Brett, if the chap that applied, if he is actually on payment, if he's a JobSeeker recipient, there is an employer reporting line Brett can call - 1300 361 241 - because people have an obligation to taxpayers if they're taking taxpayers money. And if there is not a good reason for that chap not to take a job, and if he's on a primary payment, well that payment will be taken away so that he can respond to his mutual obligations. 

But at the same time, we've got to get more and more of the 650,000 Australians who are looking for work, more and more trained and get them into the workforce. 

MINISTER ROBERT:

That may be unique case, because there may be this bloke is a stay-at-home dad, and he's got a wife who's about to give birth. 

But we've also got many other cases, Minister, where, you know, you’ve got bosses saying: I've got the jobs here, people don't want them. And when they do say, okay, I'm interested, when it comes to the crunch and they say, okay, you're starting next week, all of a sudden they get donuts. 

MINISTER ROBERT:

You'll always have challenges in a full labour market, and that's the balance between getting more Australians into work versus looking at skilled migration. Now we're unashamedly wanting to get Australians into work, it's why we’ve put $7.1 billion to training, Ben – 273,000 Australians right now using our JobTrainer, and the highest number of trade apprentices in history – 220,000. But there is still 650,000 JobSeekers, we want to make sure all of them have an opportunity to get the training they need, and all of them the opportunity to get into work, because we need our nation working. 

BEN FORDHAM:

When we talk about welcoming back 175,000 backpackers, international students, foreign workers - what's the timeline on that? Because there are many bosses out there who just can't rely on Aussies fronting up and doing the job. 

MINISTER ROBERT:

It's a balancing act. So we've got about 160,000 skilled workers come through. But we also want to balance that with getting Australians into work. If you think back to the GFC, post GFC, Prime Minister Rudd doubled the immigration intake, to like 300,000 plus for the following two years. And what that meant was a whole generation of Australians who were affected by the GFC never got into work. Indeed, 17 per cent right now of the unemployed on benefits, got unemployed from the GFC and have stayed there. And we want to avoid that. 

That's why the Government’s putting an unprecedented level into training and skilling. But we know we need to balance the high skilled end, where there is lots of skills, knowledge and experience. So, that immigration programme will slowly start up. But right now, it’s about skilling Australians and giving Australians a crack.

BEN FORDHAM:

There would be one element, which is vaccine mandates. In some professions, you need to be vaccinated, fully vaccinated, in order to work. And if people aren't vaccinated, then that is one stumbling block in them having a job.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Can be, but 95 per cent of the country’s double vaxed, Ben. So if that is an issue, it's an outlier of an issue. The vast majority - 95 per cent, one of the most highly vaccinated nations on Earth. So there is generally no impediment in terms of getting a job. A lot of employees are not looking for skills; they're just looking for someone with a good attitude who’ll work hard. 

BEN FORDHAM:

Is it harder to be a dole bludger in 2022 than it used to be 10 years ago? Twenty years ago?

MINISTER ROBERT:

It's getting harder to not take work, because mutual obligations provide an important foundation. And the average Australian understands it. Because if you're taking money from the Commonwealth, it’s not some amorphous blob called the Government - it's the lady across the street who works hard, it’s the next door neighbour who goes out to work every day, it's their taxes that fund our welfare system. And we have a mutual responsibility, a respect to that. Which is why we have an employer reporting line; it's why we have expectations that people look for work. 

I'd encourage businesses to contact your local JobActive provider. Just Google JobActive in your area and contact those providers - they've got a list of every single person on payment, and they can direct them to their business. 

BEN FORDHAM:

We appreciate your time this morning, Minister.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Great to talk to you, Ben. 

BEN FORDHAM:

Stuart Robert, the Minister for Employment and Small Business. And that phone number is, 1300 361 241. So, this is if you know about people who just refuse to get off their backside, 1300 361 241.