House debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Matters of Public Importance

Workplace Relations

4:24 pm

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Corangamite, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

In these few minutes that are remaining in this MPI, after we've heard the valedictory speeches in the House, I want to start off wishing everyone a very merry Christmas—to all of my parliamentary colleagues; to you, Mr Deputy Speaker; and of course to the people of Corangamite. I particularly want to acknowledge the member for Gorton, who is facing the first Christmas without his wife, Jodi. I also want to acknowledge the member for Barton, who is facing a very difficult Christmas without her son. We all join together in thinking particularly of those members.

It is with great pride that our government is making so much progress in delivering a strong economy. One thing we're not hearing much about anymore from the Labor Party in the debates in the chamber is jobs growth. The reason we're not hearing that from Labor is that jobs are going gangbusters in this nation. We are working extremely hard to set the right conditions for strong economic and jobs growth, with employment growth in 2017-18 of 349,000 new jobs, which is the largest increase in a financial year since 2004-05. Since the coalition came into government in September 2013, just under 1.2 million jobs have been created. The economic conditions are very strong, and that is leading to enormous boosts of confidence among small and medium-sized businesses, which have largely been deserted by the Labor Party. We know that the Leader of the Opposition made it very clear that he's declared a war on business. That's his intention if he is elected. That's why I think, underlying some of these very strong numbers, there's a very strong confidence in this government.

Our unemployment rate has fallen to five per cent. The percentage of working-age Australians on welfare has fallen to 15 per cent—the lowest rate of welfare dependency in over 25 years. All of these measures that we have implemented are leading to more jobs, allowing us to fix the budget. We know that we will be delivering a surplus in next year's budget, which is wonderful news, and that helps us guarantee the record funding we have delivered for schools, hospitals and other essential services, including of course the very significant work we are doing to keep Australians safe.

Talking about jobs and our economy, I want to pause and celebrate the very significant milestone that's been achieved in the Corangamite region and in the Geelong region, with the commencement of the new Avalon International Airport. That is an incredible day for jobs and our local economy. By 2028, the investment that our government has made into the terminal and into allowing this international terminal to be built will create an additional 2,000 jobs. And that's fundamentally why I think so many Australians, including in my electorate, have confidence in this government—we are making the investments that we need to make to grow jobs and the economy, including in delivering Victoria's second international airport.

I want to make a couple of points in response to the member for Gorton. He has fundamentally misrepresented matters in relation to the casualisation figures. There has been no change in the percentage of employees who are casual. Since about 2004 it's been at around 24, 25 per cent. So, while the Labor Party has worked very hard to misrepresent these figures, I do want to place on the record that, as at August 2018, 24.6 per cent of employees were casual, compared with a peak of 25.5 per cent in 2004. As I say, this government is delivering in spades, and the comments made by the member for Gorton demonstrate that Labor is interested in scare campaigns but not so interested in the facts.

I do want to make one really important comment: there is strong evidence that wages growth is picking up. A number of the official statistics are showing that. We are seeing some very positive signs that wages growth is increasing. We know that the laws of supply and demand still hold. Lower unemployment is a key driver of higher wages for workers.

Mr Deputy Speaker, my time has been cut short today. I wish you a very merry Christmas. And to all of my parliamentary colleagues and to Mr Speaker, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.

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