Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. Why are better skills and better pay such important parts of the Albanese Labor government's plans to help Australians with cost-of-living pressures, and why is urgent action needed?
I thank the outstanding member for Newcastle for her question. The member for Newcastle understands that what unites the employment white paper of three weeks ago, the passage of the Housing Australia Future Fund and last night's skills agreement is that we have been working away and working for Australia to help with the cost-of-living pressures that we know so many people are facing.
As the Prime Minister said a moment ago, we are investing in the skills people need to find a good job and in the workforce that Australia needs to build a better future. We are investing in skills because, if you are better trained, you are better paid.
The white paper we released is focused on full employment, job security and wages, productivity, skills needs, and barriers to employment as well. Just today the Reserve Bank backed our approach to sustained and inclusive full employment—
It's the closest he gets to a question, Mr Speaker! The Reserve Bank has said that our approach to full employment is consistent with theirs. They said:
The white paper emphasised the importance of monitoring a broader set of indicators beyond the unemployment rate, which is also consistent with the Bank's existing approach …
Unemployment has a three in front of it, and more than half a million jobs have been created under this Prime Minister, which is a record for a new government. But in order to create even more opportunities for more people we need to skill people up. That's why I pay tribute to the work of this skills minister and this Prime Minister and the National Cabinet for coming to that landmark skills agreement announced today.
We know, as I said, that better training and better pay go hand in hand, and both of these things are central to our economic plan and central to the 10 ways that we are rolling out $23 billion to help ease cost-of-living pressures, while still delivering the first surplus in 15 years.
We've got electricity bill relief, cheaper child care, increased rent assistance, more Medicare bulk-billing, cheaper medicines. We're boosting income support payments, building more affordable homes, extending paid parental leave and fee-free TAFE, and we're getting wages moving again after a decade of deliberate wage stagnation.
Those opposite oppose our plan because they want lower wages and higher prices. They're long on nasty negativity, but they're short on anything positive to say about the future. Australians have already paid too hefty a price for their failures on the economy. When Australians are doing it tough, we are providing cost-of-living help, we are skilling Australians up for great jobs, we are getting wages moving again, we are getting the budget in much better nick and, in the process, we are cleaning up the mess that those opposite left behind.