Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Questions without Notice
Regional Australia: Employment
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Can the minister outline how our government is supporting jobs in regional Australia as we emerge from bushfires, drought and, now, the COVID pandemic, and how this investment will support further job creation and continue our economic recovery?
I thank Senator Davey for her question and I acknowledge the commitment of all of us on the government side of the chamber to rural and regional Australia. Supporting rural and regional Australia, in particular through the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a fundamental priority of the Morrison government. Our government has stood with rural and regional Australia through its most difficult times, and we are putting in place the right policies and the right investments to ensure that those in rural and regional Australia have the opportunity to emerge even stronger on the other side of COVID-19.
When we look at the contribution of rural and regional Australia, we see that it produces our nation's most valuable export, it supplies our energy and, I think all of us in this chamber would agree, it certainly provides us here in Australia with some of our most attractive tourist destinations. When we look at the breakdown of the workforce, over 32 per cent of the workforce in New South Wales and over 50 per cent of the workforce in Tasmania and Queensland is actually located in our regions. That's why our $74 billion JobMaker plan is such an investment in regional Australia, as is, importantly, the creation of regional jobs. Certainly the Morrison government are all about putting in place the right economic policies so that all Australians, but in this case rural and regional Australians, are able to prosper, grow and create more jobs for Australians. Research by the National Skills Commissioner shows that 51 per cent of the 260,000 resources jobs are in regional areas and over 40 per cent of these workers received their qualification via vocational education and training. Again, that is why the government puts in place policies to support our communities, to support rural and regional Australia to prosper, grow and create more jobs for Australians.
We acknowledge that skills and training are critical to the manufacturing and resources industries that drive so many of our economies in these regions. The government has put in place, as we have spoken about before, the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy. This has of course provided crucial support across Australia but in particular in our regional areas, for apprentices and the small businesses that have those apprentices, throughout COVID-19. In remote and regional Australia, the subsidy has actually helped keep over 41,000 apprentices and trainees in work, in almost 22,000 small businesses. Without that subsidy, those apprentices and trainees might not have been able to be kept on the job. Senator Davey, you'd be interested to know that those figures actually include over 7,000 small businesses in your state of New South Wales. Again, the Morrison government is putting in place the policies to keep our apprentices and our trainees where we need them—on the job.
Senator Davey, you'd also be interested to know that, in terms of our Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements wage subsidy, which of course is supporting that new generation, that new pipeline, of skilled workers in Australia, to date around 23,000 new apprentice training contracts have been reserved under the program, by almost 12,000 businesses. And where are those businesses located? In regional Australia. Again, the Morrison government is putting in place the policies to ensure that our regional businesses, our rural businesses, have that capacity to keep those apprentices on the job where we need them.
But of course our investment does not stop there. We have a $100 million Regional Recovery Partnerships program. This partnerships program is going to supervise and coordinate investments with other levels of government to support growth and prosperity in at least 10 regions across Australia. We are putting in place the suite of policies that businesses need to prosper, grow and create more jobs. (Time expired)