House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Matters of Public Importance

COVID-19: Employment

4:13 pm

Photo of Ian GoodenoughIan Goodenough (Moore, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

The coalition government's record on employment is steady. At the start of this year, there were more than 1.4 million more Australians in work than when we came to office in 2013. During that time, wage growth was relatively stable, reflecting a low inflation and low interest rate environment in recent years. The wage price index grew by 2.1 per cent through the year to the March quarter 2020 up from 1.9 per cent from the previous June quarter.

Economic growth and job creation are being facilitated through a range of measures and policies including deregulation, small business tax cuts, free trade agreements, Vocational Education and Training and infrastructure investment. However, since the advent of the coronavirus, things have changed dramatically in the wake of the biggest economic downturn in modern history. More than 600,000 jobs have been lost in a month. The government's $320 billion economic support package, including the $130 billion JobKeeper payment scheme, contains measures to support Australians during the coronavirus outbreak. The government is supporting small business to retain apprentices and trainees with eligible businesses able to apply for a 50 per cent wage subsidy for up to nine months. The government is supporting small and medium-sized business entities and not-for-profit organisations to continue to employ workers, providing payments for a hundred per cent of the tax withheld on employees' salaries and wages. The payments will total a minimum of $20,000 and up to a maximum of $100,000.

The $130 billion JobKeeper payment is the most significant measure to protect jobs in our nation's history. In my home state of Western Australia, sectors of the labour market are still remaining strong, with thousands of mining workers adapting to COVID-safe work practices and keeping the mining industry operating through this economic crisis.

The coalition government has introduced a $7.5 billion employment service, jobactive. Jobactive provides eligible jobseekers with tailored help, from a jobactive organisation, based on their assessed needs. Jobactive providers have a strong understanding of local labour markets. They know where the jobs are, what to do to help jobseekers get ready for work, and how to match jobseekers to employer needs.

The issue of youth unemployment is important for our nation and my electorate of Moore. Last financial year, for the first time in our nation's history, more than 100,000 young Australians got a job. Youth unemployment is falling and is lower than it was under Labor, who left office with almost 55,000 fewer young people in work. The coalition is building on its track record by ensuring more young people get the skills and experience employers need, and is committed to improving skills training, including through the creation of 80,000 new apprenticeships in areas of skill shortages.

The Morrison government is providing additional support to school leavers and job seekers in regional areas by establishing 10 industry training hubs in regional areas with high youth unemployment. The training hubs will provide greater job opportunities for young people and strengthen local economies. This will be supported by 400 vocational education and training scholarships in those regions.

The government is investing $585 million to improve the vocational education and training sector. A strong VET sector equips young people with the skills to move into stable employment. The government has introduced an additional identified skills shortage payment to encourage 80,000 new apprentices to enter occupations facing skill shortages.

The government has commenced pilots of 10 training hubs in regional areas, which are fostering closer links between schools and industry and targeting high regional youth unemployment. Youth Jobs PaTH is a targeted initiative designed to support young people gain the skills and work experience they need to secure employment. PaTH internships help young people under 25 years of age become more competitive in the labour market, giving them the skills that employers want, opportunities for work experience, and the support to move from welfare to work.

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