Monday, 20 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Scullion. I ask the minister if he could he tell the Senate what the government is doing to support jobs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in remote Australia?
Thank you for that question, Senator Macdonald. It's a very important question. It is one of the most important things for our side of politics, because in this place we need to make sure the economy works for everyone, not just the people in the big cities and not just the people who currently have jobs. We need to move people into jobs. Since 2013, we've created over a million jobs. They are new jobs. There was a record 400,000 jobs created thanks to our policies. We are job creating with a $75 billion, decade-long pipeline of transport infrastructure. That is going to support 50,000 jobs. There are record investments in the defence industry and supporting small jobs in small business. With the recently announced Future Submarine program, that's 2,800 new jobs. Our tax cuts mean that Australian businesses can keep more of their own money to reinvest back into the economy. Those 400,000 new jobs compare to just 89,000 new jobs in the 12 months before we came to government. It was 89,000—what a pathetic record.
Importantly, these jobs are being created right across the country, particularly in the bush. Our Community Development Program has created 26,000 jobs. Many of those 26,000 jobs are for the most disadvantaged jobseekers in Australia. We suffered so badly under those opposite's RJCP. At the end of their program, only seven per cent of the participants were showing up. We have now got 71 per cent over 26,000 jobs. Take our own program: there were 22,900 jobs that were all about getting people off the misery of welfare and into the dignity of work. How can we afford to have these job-creating investments? It's because we brought the budget back under control and more people on to the taxpayer side of the ledger.
The Indigenous rangers program is one of the most important ways that we're getting regional and remote Indigenous jobseekers off welfare and into work. This vision of the Howard government turned what was previously a Work for the Dole activity into a superannuated, salaried job. As we've indicated, we're supporting nearly 3,000 jobs across Australia, and over 365 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobs in Queensland, the senator's home state—including 13 rangers that I know you know well, the Lama Lama Rangers group from Port Stuart. Last April we announced a further $250 million—that's right: jobs and growth—to expand this rangers program into new parts of the country, a 32 per cent increase in this program since we came to government. This is a methodical, sensible and sustainable way. This isn't like those opposite, saying, 'We'll just double the program,' with absolutely no reference to cost or demand.
Giving Australians jobs and small business opportunities is the whole reason that we on this side of the chamber are here. The dignity of work is the very best form of welfare the government can provide. In my own portfolio there has been a remarkable turnaround in Indigenous jobs and training, which was characterised by churn and training for training's sake by those opposite. We have now supported over 60,000 Indigenous jobseekers into work, which has translated into a 23.3 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous Australians with a job since the 2011 census. We are also supporting small business opportunities. Before we came to government, Indigenous businesses were all but locked out of Commonwealth contracts, with just 30 Indigenous businesses and $6.2 million in 2012-13. Now there are over a thousand, supporting a billion dollars in contracts. Everywhere you look there is jobs and small business growth for Indigenous Australians and for all Australians. (Time expired)