Monday, 22 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. To date, how many employers have registered to claim payments under the JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme? And how many employers have received payments to date?
Thanks, and, indeed, I'm pleased that Senator Gallacher was listening or at least listening in part to what I was saying. What I was saying was the evidence was clear that a program like JobMaker was necessary. Indeed, that evidence is in the fact that, in targeting a program to younger workers, we can see from the ABS data that jobs for those over 55 have actually increased over time whilst, for those aged between 15 and 34, there was actually a 3.3 per cent decrease between March last year and January this year.
So for those of older age groups—those aged 35 plus—there's been an increase in employment of 1.2 per cent. For those aged over 55, there has been an increase of 2.9 per cent. For those in the JobMaker Hiring Credit target age, there has been a decrease in employment. So this was exactly what the evidence and analysis that Treasury had given to us demonstrated—that there was a genuine risk in this recession, as in past recessions, that youth unemployment would be the last to recover and that you would have younger Australians potentially facing longer periods of time unemployed. That was why we put in place a program targeted precisely to that cohort of individuals and that we did so making sure this program had safeguards in place—because I think I can predict where the supplementaries are likely to go—to make sure that employment had to be additional to existing numbers so there would be safeguards around existing employees but incentives to get young Australians back into jobs.
That is very similar, I think, to the primary question, which I took on notice, to provide the senator with any figures in relation to registration for and take-up of the scheme. So I will come back to the chamber with that. This scheme is at an early stage of its operations.
Senator Watt interjecting—
Senator Watt can chuckle. Let me get this straight. Is it the contention of those opposite that they don't want a youth employment scheme? Is that what they're saying? Is that what this lot are actually still saying? They don't want incentives to employ young Australians? Is this what I'm getting from those opposite—that they actually think there's not a problem there to worry about? Is that their contention—that somehow, for young Australians, well, it's fine? The statistics, the data, the evidence, might all show that young Australians' employment situation is more vulnerable, but apparently they don't care. Apparently those opposite don't care. Well, guess what? We do care and we've done something about it and we're working to implement that program and we want to make sure that we help young Australians to get the same— (Time expired)
I'm assuming the prompting of these questions relates to some media reporting that I've seen today about FOIs that were released by the Treasury. I think it's important, given some of the selective quoting of those FOIs, to make clear that they also say very clearly—
On direct relevance, Mr President. It can't be directly relevant to refer to quotes which were not contained in the question. We simply asked the minister to guarantee that no worker has lost or will lose their job.
Those FOI documents include the statement from Treasury 'The hiring credit does not create an incentive for an employer to replace an older worker with several new part-time workers.' That's what's implicit in Senator Gallacher's question, and the government rejects that. We built this program with clear additionality criteria in place—in fact, with a double-barrelled additionality test there: firstly, that the business would have to be increasing the headcount of employees and, secondly, that the payroll for the business would also have to increase. Those two criteria are there to make sure that indeed a business has to be taking on new, additional employees, growing the payroll, and, under this program, young employees, to give young Australians an opportunity.