House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Constituency Statements


9:33 am

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In the lead up to last week's Jobs and Skills Summit, I held the Gilmore Jobs and Skills Summit survey to canvass the views across our community, because I believe everyone deserves to have their say. I was impressed with the hundreds and hundreds of responses I received, and I thank everyone who participated. My electorate of Gilmore has a traditionally high unemployment and underemployment rate. We have a higher than average age demographic and lower than average wages, so we have a unique set of jobs and skills challenges that do not necessarily follow the national trends.

While there are a significant number of local infrastructure projects that I believe could help to create jobs, without action to fix structural issues facing our health, housing, childcare and education sectors, I fear these projects will not do enough to support the wellbeing of our community. I am excited that many of the suggestions made in our Gilmore submission were considered and listed as priority outcomes from the summit. The two most common themes were about apprentices and training in skill shortage areas, and support for older workers. That's why, as part of the outcomes of the summit, we will deliver an additional $1 billion in joint federal and state funding for fee-free TAFE for 180,000 people in skills shortage areas. That is just fantastic.

On top of this, we have also provided a one-off income credit so that age pensioners who want to work can earn an additional $4,000 over the financial year without losing their pension. Many people who responded to my survey raised this concern, and this again is fantastic news.

Local people raised concerns with the visa system and the need to support the agricultural sector, so we have committed to this as well, with an historic agricultural workforce tripartite agreement to ensure farmers can get the workers they need and to make sure agricultural workers are protected and respected. Speeding up visas, increasing the migrant cap and supporting industries with skills shortages are all things local people said they wanted and are all things we will now deliver. Across all the themes raised, wages were raised as an issue that needs addressing in health, education, child care, hospitality and more. We are taking this seriously, and the jobs summit outcomes show the government has listened to the voices of local people on the South Coast. We've also announced progress to address the housing crisis and improve jobs and training pathways for women and First Nations people, more themes raised by local people.

I received many interesting comments and suggestions about how we can address the local jobs and skills crisis. Thank you so much for sharing them with me. I will continue working hard to deliver these commitments for our community.