Thursday, 13 February 2020
Matters of Public Importance
It's a pleasure to speak on an MPI. It's been a couple of years, so I'm looking forward to it. I'll wait for a moment too, because it's the first time I've spoken from this dispatch box. I consider it a great honour, and I acknowledge my community for giving me the opportunity.
One of the phrases in the matter of public importance is 'to focus on the needs of Australians'. That is one thing I can agree with the Leader of the Opposition on—when he spoke about his address to the National Press Club and how one of the first things he would focus on was jobs. That is something we always need to look at when we are in this place, representing our communities or representing the government: what have we as representatives or what has our government done with respect to jobs?
In focusing on the needs of Australians, one of the successes of this government—the government that I'm a member of—has been the job creation that has happened under us over the last six years. In that time, over 1.5 million jobs have been created. Unemployment rates have fallen, and we have a record number of people in work. Male employment is at a record high, female employment is at a record high and, very importantly, we have record-high youth employment. I think that is a very proud statistic to have as a government. Employment continues to grow at record levels. So that is fulfilling and focusing, I think, on one of if not the primary needs of Australians.
I want to go through a few things about why I think we've done that. These statistics don't just happen. They happen because of the policies and the focus of the government—what the government is achieving. I represent a region that is a very high exporting area. I have beef producers, pork producers, growers of blueberries, macadamias and many other agricultural products. I think one of the proudest achievements of this government—and, compared to when Labor was in government, we've had far more achievements in this area—has been trade agreements. One of the major things that has maintained the wealth of this country over a long time is the fact that we have always been a trading nation.
To give an example, one of the biggest private employers in my region is an abattoir. They employ, at any particular point in time, over a thousand people. They are standing up—