Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview – 4BC Drive with Scott Emerson

Ministers:

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

Topics: Guns N’ Roses; the National Plan for reopening; state border restrictions and international travel; the Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program; Federal Government funding for apprenticeships

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

SCOTT EMERSON:

And the Federal Government has today announced more support for apprentices to finish their training. The announcement is part of the Government's $3.9 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program, which will now extend to support apprentices in their second and third year. Now, under the new changes, which come into effect from October, eligible employers will receive a 10 per cent wage subsidy for apprentices in their second year of eligible apprenticeship and five per cent in the third year. Stuart Robert is the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business. A big title there, Stuart Robert. Great to have you on the show.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Thanks, Scott. I'm still a bit staggered at the Gunners being delayed.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Oh, mate.

MINISTER ROBERT

Sweet Child of Mine, the greatest opening rift of all songs I can think of.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Well, I have to tell you, Stuart Robert, in a former life, way back when I was a young journalist, I interviewed Axl Rose's speech coach, a voice coach, and she was this little old woman. I had to interview her for a radio program. And she explained to me what she did, and she showed me how to sing, I can tell you. And I did do a live performance. Very short, I have to say, thank God for that, of Sweet Child of Mine on national radio. And I think for the Gunners fans out there, after about 20 years, they've finally forgiven me for murdering that song. So I'm glad to hear you're also a Gunners fan as well.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Yeah, indeed. It is disappointing that the concert has been postponed. I remember an artist a few days ago was bemoaning the fact that we can have sports stadiums open but not for the arts and culture, i.e. concerts. And I think there's a point about that. That is pretty sad.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Well, look, hopefully, we will see our borders open sooner. Before I get onto the apprenticeships, I might ask you about that. Obviously, there seems to be a bit of, well, you know, there is clearly inconsistencies and disagreement between the Feds and some of the states, particularly between Queensland and the Federal Government, on when things will open. Now, we've got National Cabinet meeting on Friday. Do you expect, as a senior minister in the Federal Government, that Queensland on Friday will give a firm commitment in terms of what they will do at 80 per cent as part of a national plan?

MINISTER ROBERT:

The national plan is extant. So it exists. Queensland has already indicated that they'll abide by it. We don't need a firm commitment from the Premier this Friday. As far as the nation's concerned and speaking as a Queenslander, she's already given it, that at 80 per cent, we'll move to Phase C at 80 per cent. We're looking at opening international borders for Australians to travel. It’s pretty difficult for Australians to travel internationally if they're not travelling domestically. So we would simply expect the Premier to hold the line and hold her commitment she's made to Queenslanders that at 80 per cent, we're opening up.

SCOTT EMERSON:

But you've heard from Annastacia Palaszczuk this week saying, look, I want to see more information from the Doherty Institute, updated information. Is there any updated information that she can get?

MINISTER ROBERT:

In short, the Doherty Institute has made the point that the modelling is correct. Regardless of the starting period for cases, it’s correct. You're starting to see some of the results from interstate, where hospitalisations haven't been as serious as was first thought. So the modelling as it stands right now is absolutely sufficient. It's sufficient for the national plan to hold together, and what Queenslanders now need is certainty that the borders and the economy will open up. That's all we need.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Well, I know you're at the epicentre of that down on the Gold Coast. You're based down there. The Gold Coast has clearly been feeling it during school holidays, particularly I’ve been hearing about the fact that if we do not reopen to the rest of Australia over that Christmas / New Year period, we’d be losing about $118 million a day from the tourism sector. That's going to be terrible news for an area you have responsibility for – small business.

MINISTER ROBERT:

We’re talking billions and billions of dollars. I was in Cairns and Townsville in the last week as well, and it's the same story there; 80 per cent of tourists into Gold Coast, talking a city of 700,000 people, 80 per cent are from New South Wales and Victoria, and they're currently excluded. Now, if New South Wales and Victoria are opening up at 80 per cent, if we are opening up international travel at 80 per cent, people will be able to go to Canada before they can go to Cairns. And Sydneysiders and Victorians will go to the Pacific Islands and not to the Gold Coast. And that’s just unacceptable. That's not how we are as one Australia. We all need to be consistent. That's what I'm looking for.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Now, Stuart, Robert, I’m- we probably spent too much time talking about the Gunners and also opening up the borders, but just quickly these changes, it is important for Australians to apprenticeships out there and that they are affordable and reliable, and they stick.

MINISTER ROBERT:

No question. The Morrison Government’s the best friend that apprentices and their employing businesses have ever had. $3.9 billion we've had to boost, what we call Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements; has seen 270,000 new apprentices indicated they’ll start – with a 141 per cent increase from apprentices that we've seen year on year. The announcement today, another $716 million on top of the $3.9 billion to continue those wage subsidies into the second and third year so that as we come forward in our recovery, the skilled workforce will be there for our nation to keep moving ahead as long as everyone holds to the national plan and we open up at 80 per cent.

SCOTT EMERSON:

All right. Stuart Robert, great to speak to you.