Thursday, 3 December 2020
Questions without Notice
Unfortunately, the youth unemployment rate is too high at the moment, at 15.6 per cent. So, as we have done through the budget process through the period of COVID-19, we have put in significant measures to support young Australians. In fact, it's interesting that the Labor Party were only a few weeks ago criticising the government for the range of measures that we have put in place to support young Australians to get back into work as the economy recovers from COVID-19. So significant resources—
With respect, I don't think it's within my ability to decree that a rate is not directly relevant. There's a time to debate answers to questions. The minister's entitled to—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! The minister is entitled to answer in that form. It was a very specific question and I will maintain a tight test of direct relevance because of that. As long as the minister is talking about youth unemployment, I do think that is directly relevant. Senator Colbeck.
I believe I was being directly relevant to the question, because I actually quoted the youth unemployment rate of 15. 6 per cent as part of my response to the question, and I've also said that the youth unemployment rate in this country is too high. The work that this government continues to do to support young Australians to get back into work is because we are concerned that young people who stay out of work too long have significant lifelong effects with respect to their futures, their careers and their financial circumstances, so we have, through our budget processes and through the pandemic, been supporting people with JobKeeper, supporting young people with JobSeeker, to keep them connected to their workplaces, and then supporting them to gain new jobs through our JobMaker programs—
As I said before, Senator Wong, I cannot say that answering in this form is not directly relevant to the question. What I'm being asked to do is to rule on the substance of an answer, which I cannot do. While the minister is talking about issues directly related to youth unemployment, I do think that is directly relevant. Senator Colbeck.
Government senators interjecting—
Order! Senators on my right.
Senator Wong interjecting—
I heard multiple colleagues on my right. Senator Wong, one of your colleagues is asking the question. Senator Green, I will let you continue the question if you could start after the number you read out.
This government has worked assiduously through COVID-19, through the development and the implementation of JobKeeper and through the development and the implementation of JobSeeker, to assist young Australians to stay in work where they can and stay connected to their jobs, to support them through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the youth unemployment rate over the last period has increased. That's why we put in place measures to assist young people to get work and to attract employers to employ young people in apprenticeships. Only in the last sitting fortnight the opposition were criticising us for focusing on young people's employment as part of our budgetary strategy, but we will continue to do that because we know the negative effects on young Australians if they stay out of work too long. We will continue to support them into new jobs. (Time expired)
As the economy continues to grow off the back of the release of the border lockdowns that have been occurring—we saw a 3.3 per cent growth in the economy in the figures that came forward last week—more people will go back into work and they will continue to be encouraged to do so by the measures unashamedly put in place by this government, measures that the opposition has criticised us for and measures that the opposition has opposed in this place. The youth measures that we put in place were criticised by the opposition and opposed in this place by the opposition, but we are proud to support younger Australians and employers of young Australians to bring young people back to work.