Thursday, 3 June 2021
I think every member here cares passionately about youth justice, but it would not be unfair to say that there's rarely an opportunity for direct engagement from the Commonwealth government. I think it is now time to change. I think that all levels of government should play a role with youth justice, and I think Queensland may lead the way. We saw the Oatlands tragedy last year that shocked the nation. There were two tragedies: in my electorate on Australia Day and in my colleague's electorate in Thuringowa in January of this year. Both of them focused the attention of Queenslanders on the fact that the youth justice challenge nationwide is difficult to manage and, it is not unfair to say, under-resourced in many cases.
There are no guarantees of success, but I would have to say that every Australian would want to see children having a chance. We start in the child protection area. We see them dropping out of school. We see early engagement with the criminal justice system. If you think of youth justice as a freeway, any reasonable Australian would say that the off-ramp has to be at whatever possible time and as early as possible for every single case in the system.
We may say there are only about a thousand Queenslanders in the youth justice system, and I guess that sounds like a small number. We might also look at crime stats and say, 'Well, the number of people in the criminal justice system is falling.' That in and of itself is positive as well, but it doesn't help much if you're the victim of crime, and it doesn't help much if there are fewer people committing more crime. That probably is what's happening in Queensland.
It's also worth noting when it comes to vehicle related crime that Queensland's rates per 100,000 are twice the mainland state average, not 20 per cent higher. We have an absolute clear and present challenge with drug related vehicle crime for a range of reasons. The police will tell you it's not just all about rebirthing and popping them across the border. At the moment, it's more about just driving for the thrill. When you're driving to rebirth, you drive carefully. When you're driving for the thrill, you're more likely to kill someone. There is no easy answer. There is no technology that allows us to remotely switch off engines, and it's not even close. So the answer is: get under the hood early and provide every resource we can. Yes, it starts in the family. Yes, it starts at school. But I'd like to see the Commonwealth working more closely with the states.
In Queensland's case—and I think they've got a good record, having a criminal justice plan put together between 2018 and 2020—they assessed it but it's still not solved. They're not even close to solving it, but there are plenty of good minds on it. We have Bob Atkinson leading a major committee reporting to the Premier. We have a committed Labor minister in Leanne Linard, who has corresponded on these important issues. What I'm saying is that Queensland has done something called Transitions 2 Success and they've evaluated it. We've got lessons to learn from it. But, federally, we have transition-into-work programs that just sit and hover nearby but never communicate. If you walk into a court, which is a stressful, fraught environment, you've got teams of multidisciplinary thinking about every case that comes in for a mention, but the jobactive provider is down the road and around the corner just waiting for the customer to walk in. Of course, they never do because they don't have to. As long as they're downloading the app and meeting their online reporting requirement, they don't have to have a jobactive provider at all. I'm saying that this interface is too important to ignore. In every city where there is a children's court hearing in Queensland, I'd argue the transition to work should work with Transition 2 Success. There should be multiple exits off a freeway of youth justice. Every person we can get into training, back to school, or into work is a really important victory. Let us as MPs focus on that.
I want to congratulate members on the other side, the member for Oxley and the member for Moreton, for not only being open minded about the proposal of working between levels of government and political parties but asking, 'How can we help?' There's now a grant round called Safer Communities. In a somewhat Orwellian way it was once all about CCTV. It's now about engaging directly. How do we resource these at-risk children as early as possible in the journey that takes them off the path of opportunity towards the path of building a criminal resume and get them back on? It's not impossible. There's major socioeducational disadvantage. There's epigenetics at play. There are single parents. There are parents in and out of jail. Of course it's not easy.
What we know is this. We know that programs are already in place. They do need a bit more shoulder to the wheel and they do need longer term supervision. You simply can't put youth justice youth, 15 to 19 years of age, in a job and expect them to stick because you've dropped them there. They need to be wrapped around and they need long-term supervision. The evidence from the Queensland government is around a year. I think we should be committed to resourcing that. I think every person who stays in a job has a major opportunity to get off one freeway and onto the freeway we want them to be on. Let's unite on that. We have an opportunity with Safer Communities. I commend Minister Wood for this $20 million initiative. Applications are now open and I encourage every MP to apply and make this policy a reality.
My state of South Australia has consistently had the highest unemployment rate in the country over the last few years. We've lost our manufacturing capabilities through General Motors Holden, which provided good jobs for people for many, many years. When you think of how we ended up losing that industry, it is a real shame that we had a government at the time in 2013-14 that basically goaded Holden out of Australia. Holden was a manufacturing hub. It was one of the centrepieces of car manufacturing in the world, one of 13 places in the world that could deliver a motor vehicle from design to the salesroom. There were only 13 countries in the world, and we've lost that. We continue to lose manufacturing, all the manufacturing that would feed in and provide parts et cetera.
What we've seen with this Morrison government is that they're doing nothing to create good jobs, full-time work with decent pay, for South Australians. We've seen a Liberal government in South Australia that's lost the plot and is not showing any interest.
We heard that JobMaker was going to be the centrepiece of this government's budget last year, that it was going to create 450,000 jobs. That was the sales pitch. That was the marketing pitch that we heard from the Prime Minister. That was the promise that was made at the last budget. But they've only created 1,000 jobs that they can show for. I can tell you there are hardly any in South Australia. There are hardly any in the suburbs of Adelaide. Again, it's a great sales and marketing technique by this government. They've brought the art of marketing and selling into perfection. If only they could do the same with actually delivering. Unfortunately, in the delivering part it is zero. Of course, the Prime Minister's career before coming into this place was marketing and sales.
But who suffers? Hard-working Australians who just want good, secure jobs. We have one of the longest periods of stagnant growth, negative wages, low productivity that this country has seen and it's not good for the economy. To top this off, I read in the front page of the Adelaide Advertiser today that thousands of future SA based jobs and billions of dollars of investment—that we could lose the Future Submarine project. There are jobs that were supposed to be created by the subs. It has been underway for five years. It is to build 12 Attack class submarines. More than 250 people were already employed there.
We need some clarity from the government. I know that he's going off to the G7. He said that he would meet with the Prime Minister of France. We need the Prime Minister to come back with clarity to guarantee that those jobs will remain and to stop this uncertainty being spread. The federal government must make it clear for the sake of the Australian defence businesses and for South Australians. Otherwise, how can companies have faith in this Liberal government, both the state Marshall Liberal government and the federal Morrison government, and make a decision to invest in my state of South Australia if this uncertainty is constantly maintained?
As I said, with the Prime Minister about to leave for the overseas trip, as part of the G7, South Australians demand that he returns with a clear commitment about the troubled Attack class submarine project and the future of these essential South Australian jobs that were meant to be the panacea for everything after GMH shut. The defence department has already confirmed a plan B. We want to know what that plan B is for the sake of those jobs in South Australia. We know there have been tensions between Naval Group and the defence department. It's about time that the defence department fixed this and made sure that we make a commitment to keeping those jobs and getting this project on the way. The state opposition leader, Peter Malinauskas, has been out there fighting for these jobs. We haven't heard boo from the state Premier Mr Marshall. When you compare the former Labor government in South Australia: Jay Weatherill, together with the Labor opposition, fought tooth and nail to make sure that we got that project in South Australia to create some jobs— (Time expired)