House debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice


2:41 pm

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the government support the coalition's policy to help pensioners and veterans who may choose to work more hours to help fill vacancies in sectors like tourism, agriculture, hospitality and home care?

2:42 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. One of the things the Jobs and Skills Summit is going to do is bring unions, employers and civil society together to discuss how we address the acute skills shortages impacting on business. One way we can do it: I'm pleased I can refer the shadow minister to my ageing vision statement, given at the beginning of 2020 in Brisbane, where I referred to exactly the sort of idea of constructively working through ways to encourage older Australians to participate more in the workforce. That's something I proposed way back in 2020. It's something that is going to be considered, along with a whole range of measures about how we can deal with the acute skills shortages in our economy which are holding people back, holding businesses back.

One of the things that occurred at the time of the outbreak of the pandemic was that Australia told all temporary visa holders to go. That's had a real impact, because what's occurred now in critical areas, including the hospitality sector, is that around the country there are restaurants that can't open seven days a week—can't open five days a week—because they simply can't get the staff that are available. It's having an impact in agriculture. It's having an impact in the construction and infrastructure sector. And of course it's also feeding into inflation, because if there is a failure to be able to access the labour market then that can increase your costs.

So, this government is determined to have comprehensive plans. We're determined to consult with business and unions on these ideas. And I'm pleased to recommend—there's actually a book of the vision statements all together, which I recommend to the shadow minister. There are lots of ideas there. We put together a whole range of those ideas, with fully costed policies, during the election campaign. We'll be feeding those ideas into the Jobs and Skills Summit. I'm not sure what the opposition's position is. Some have called for the Jobs and Skills Summit to not go ahead; others have sought an invite. I'm not quite sure what their position is on it. But we'll be consulting with the business community, with unions and with civil society on how we address these great challenges, and I'm pleased that my ministerial colleague Minister O'Connor is working hard in the lead-up to the summit and, as well, on a series of local events that will also take those ideas. (Time expired)