Wednesday, 7 September 2022
Questions without Notice
Jobs and Skills Summit
My question is to the Minister for Trade and Tourism and Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, Senator Farrell. Minister, the last few years have been incredibly difficult for the tourism industry, and that was then further exacerbated by the former government and their constant delays and inaction. How did the Albanese government ensure the sector was an integral part of the Jobs and Skills Summit?
I thank Senator Urquhart for that question—and, of course, she is absolutely right. Very few industries have had it as tough as the tourism and travel sector over the last couple of years. From bushfires and floods to the pandemic, the industry has weathered significant challenges which have impacted the businesses' ability to retain and to recruit staff. Those in the sector understand that skill shortages were an issue before the pandemic but were exacerbated by the ongoing uncertainty from and lack of action by the previous government. Hearing the voices of those in the sector and working together on solutions is and will continue to be a priority for the Albanese Labor government.
To this end, last week I was joined by almost 100 tourism and travel stakeholders who detailed their challenges and how the lack of staff is limiting their recovery from the pandemic. Throughout the sessions, we discussed suggestions and opportunities to solve these problems, and those were then fed through to the Jobs and Skills Summit.
Unlike the previous government, who were more focused on their own jobs than the tourism sector—come on, respond! Respond! Say something! Don't just sit there! Don't just sit there—
Honourable senators interjecting—
the Albanese government is committed to supporting the visitor economy and addressing the skills crisis which is limiting their recovery. We understand the value of the tourism and travel sector, and we want to see it return as the heart of our economic narrative, particularly in the great state of Tasmania.
I thank the senator once again for her important question. It's true that the majority of tourism and travel businesses are small to medium sized in this country, with 95 per cent of all businesses employing fewer than five people—and that's particularly the case in the state of Tasmania. This offers both challenges and significant opportunities to these dynamic and resilient businesses.
The Albanese Labor government has heard the feedback from these small and medium businesses and has announced a number of measures—following the Jobs and Skills Summit—which will provide assistance. This includes an announcement that has been made alongside the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, of the establishment of the visitor economy disability pilot to help people living with disability secure jobs in tourism. In addition, tourism businesses will benefit from those changes which would enable pensioners— (Time expired)
Minister, building on the Jobs and Skills Summit, can you please provide some further details on this week's announcement that you just talked about—to connect people with disability to meaningful work in the tourism sector?
I thank the senator once again for her question. As mentioned earlier, today, as a result of the Jobs and Skills Summit, I joined the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, in announcing a $3.3 million visitor economy disability pilot to help people living with disability to secure and sustain jobs in tourism. The pilot will address barriers, as previously identified by small and medium-sized tourism businesses, in recruiting, retaining and progressing staff with disabilities. These include a lack of time and capability to recruit people living with disability; confusion on how and where to seek support; and employment services providers' focusing on supporting jobseekers only, rather than employers. We know that 88 per cent of people living with disability who work don't actually need modifications in the workplaces to do so.(Time expired)