Thursday, 18 June 2020
This government is a jobs government. It's always been our focus, and it's taken on even greater importance since the efforts to suppress COVID-19. Prior to COVID-19, more than 1.5 million jobs had been created right across the country by this government. Female participation had risen, and the gender pay gap had fallen to record lows. We promised that we would create jobs and we did. Then COVID-19 hit, and as a result so much has had to change so very quickly. But we are an incredible country. We are resilient, and we banded together as a nation, and it's the efforts of everyday Australians that have ensured we have suppressed COVID-19. Most importantly, it is through the efforts of every Australian working together that we will recover. The most important part of Australia's economic recovery is getting Australians back into jobs. Our balanced budget and strong economic position meant that this government could act decisively and swiftly to implement the jobseeker and JobKeeper programs to give Australians the helping hand they needed in these unprecedented times. But now the greatest challenge is the road to recovery: restoring and creating jobs. We've done it before, and we will do it again.
The JobMaker plan recently announced by the Prime Minister details a new plan for economic success, backing business, backing our highly competitive industries and reforming the skills sector. One of the core principles of our government has always been to ensure Australians have the right skills to fit the workplace of today and tomorrow. We know that vocational education and training reform is vital, and that's why it's a core part of our JobMaker plan.
The government has recently moved to establish a new statutory position, the National Skills Commissioner. This new position, working with the National Skills Commission, will help prepare our labour market for recovery by strengthening the education and training sector. We know that, given the scale of the challenge we are facing, our system is not fit for purpose. That's why we are moving quickly to make the system better. That's what good governments do. They constantly look to improve how we do things in a changing environment. Not only does this mean that we need to get better outcomes for the industry and for those looking to enter the skilled workforce; we need to provide more transparency and value for money for the taxpayer.
I don't think it is possible to find a more determined or fierce advocate for vocational education and training in this country than Minister Cash. Her passion for removing any perceived stigma that a trade or a skilled based career is a second-best option is outstanding. She couldn't be more right. I support her wholeheartedly in this endeavour, and I intend to ensure that my own son, along with every other young person in my electorate of Ryan, gives equal billing and consideration to a trade or skills based career when weighed against a university degree. We on this side of the House are working to make sure that Australians striving for a skills based career are rightly given the opportunities, the jobs and the recognition that they deserve. It is their hard work that will pull our economy back up by its bootstraps. Alongside the Prime Minister, Minister Cash is working on ensuring that we have a system that can deliver the skills that are actually in demand by industry. Industry is the creator of jobs, and our education and training sector must be responsive and deliver the skills that the industry needs.
The appointment of the National Skills Commissioner will mean that there is an authoritative and accurate source of information for students to see where the jobs of the future will be and what skills they will need to be able to access those jobs. Importantly, the appointment of this position is not only vital; it's incredibly timely. As COVID-19 has shown us, the economy and industries will evolve—that is, the jobs that will be made as we come out of the crisis may not be the same as the jobs that were lost. That's why our VET reform will take skills training to new levels of responsiveness as the commissioner and the commission can flag emerging skills shortages and upcoming trends.
This government is absolutely dedicated to jobs. We won't be distracted by those on the other side of the chamber who seek to take away jobs and seek to destroy industries. We will be focused on making sure that we continue to create jobs for Australians and get them back into work. Right now, our industry and businesses are hurting, particularly in Queensland where a Labor state Premier refuses to open the borders despite there being no medical advice that it's required. What we could do very quickly is help create jobs in Queensland by reopening the border, as we are doing in Canberra to create jobs.