Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview - Today Show with Allison Langdon and Karl Stefanovic

Ministers:

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

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

ALLISON LANGDON:

Alright. Let's bring in Minister for Employment Stuart Robert who is in Canberra for us this morning. A very good morning to you, Minister. As we just heard, you’ve secured access to the Moderna vaccine. Did you know about it?

MINISTER ROBERT:

I didn't though I'm sure the Health Minister did and I'm sure the Health Minister’s got a lot more to stay about it, but not surprising that the Jobs Minister wouldn't get a heads up.

I do respect the fact though, that Moderna has US reporting guidelines and guidelines to their respective stock exchanges. So, I guess that's just the way it goes.

ALLISON LANGDON:

I mean, I ask you because we haven't heard from our Health Minister since this announcement was made overnight. Any idea why this announcement would have been made in the US and not by our own Government?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, the US has got reporting guidelines and those guidelines require them to report anything material to their respective markets and a deal with a foreign government is material. And I think with a time differential of 17 hours, that was just the way it rolled. But my understanding is that Minister Hunt will be out this morning.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Well, it kind of sounds like he was blind-sided by it, that we didn't know about it.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Probably more likely that no one’s going to be awake at 2am if Minister Hunt had a press conference.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Alright. Hey look, borders are closed. As you know, we still have Aussies stranded abroad. How is it that 14,000 people were given an exemption to leave the country, some multiple times?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, 512,000 Australians have returned over the next 12 months, Ally. In fact, the Federal Government’s facilitated over 44,000 on 1000 flights. But Australians continue to move in and out of the country for a whole range of reasons, all approved by the independent Border Force Commissioner and that's how it should be. There should be avenues for Australians to seek that from an independent authority.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Let’s just talk about the Budget. We’re seeing a huge, a very welcome spend on infrastructure; but you’ve got a problem though, don’t you, when there’s not enough workers to build the roads and the tracks?

MINISTER ROBERT:

It’s an issue. 50 per cent of all employment growth in the last five years has come from immigration and as discussed, borders are closed. So there’s 1.16 million Australians on payment. Those Australians now need to get skilled and that's why there’s $4 billion for skilling in the budget. 

ALLISON LANGDON:

So, this JobTrainer program which is being extended – a further 2.7 billion to create another 170,000 new apprenticeships. Is it fair to say that you’re banking a lot of our COVID recovery on tradies?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We’re banking a lot of the COVID recovery on jobs right across the sector. So, 2.7 billion for extra apprenticeships. Another $1 billion for other skills outside of apprenticeships and of course, a range of funds going into boosting welfare recipient's ability to get subsidies - $10,000 subsidies to employ an Australian over the age of 50. We really want the market to engage with these subsidies and employ Australians.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Minister, I'm still reeling that you guys aren’t picking up your phones at 2am in the morning.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Who would have thought, Ally, if we’d called you to do a press conference because Moderna’s about to present to the market.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Don’t be like that.

MINISTER ROBERT:

We didn’t think you’d want to be there.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We definitely would have been there.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Yeah, we would have been. We’re already up. What are you talking about?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Hey, I was just enjoying the alien discussion.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

What do you reckon about that? 

ALLISON LANGDON:

Yeah, do you think they’re real?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, I'm not too sure that a ping from a pulsar wave out there can turn into a three-headed monster. But hey, who knows?

ALLISON LANGDON:

You need more imagination, Minister. That’s all I can say.

MINISTER ROBERT:

We do. We do indeed.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Thanks for talking to us this morning.