612 ABC Brisbane with Emma Griffiths - Queensland Nickel Structural Adjustment Programme

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia

E & EO Transcript

Subject – Queensland Nickel Structural Adjustment Programme

EMMA GRIFFITHS:  The Federal Employment Minister is Michaelia Cash - hello. 

MINISTER CASH:  Great to be with you Emma and hello to your listeners.

EMMA GRIFFITHS:  Michaelia Cash, what will the (structural adjustment package) $500,000 pay for?

MINISTER CASH:  Well just so your listeners do know, I have today announced on behalf of the Government immediate career transitioning assistance for those affected Queensland workers. We are going to provide $500,000 and it is for career transitioning assistance, supporting those employees who have lost their jobs as a result of the Queensland Nickel decision to make them redundant. The Government’s initial focus is to ensure that the affected workers are given assistance, certainly with the relevant training and licenses. So it is about working with them individually on the basis of what they will need, to be in the best possible position to find new employment.

EMMA GRIFFITHS:  Townsville has an unemployment rate of 13%. What chances do you give them in finding jobs in that region?

MINISTER CASH:  Well that’s one of the reasons the Government is very much focused on job creation. We are very much focused on the transitioning economy. You will know we have already put in place significant new initiatives for Northern Australia. We of course have our Northern Australia policy. It is one of the reasons we also launched our $50 billion infrastructure program because we knew we needed to have new projects to commence so that there would be the jobs for the future. We need jobs and growth around the whole country, we understand we have to do those things that are going to grow the economy because when we grow the economy we grow the pie and we enable more Australians to get those jobs.

EMMA GRIFFITHS:  Will there be more help for these workers and more help for Townsville in the coming weeks and months?

MINISTER CASH:  In the first instance the Federal Government is assessing what it can do and is able to provide the immediate career transitioning assistance for them by way of the Structural Assistance Package. Your listeners will obviously be fully aware that Queensland Nickel has appointed administrators. Certainly the Government’s position is that while they work through this process we would hope that circumstances can be improved. In the event that circumstances don’t improve, certainly the Government would reassess the situation at that time.

EMMA GRIFFITHS:  Michaelia Cash, there is also the question of entitlements for these 237 workers, who lost their jobs that a unions told them that they been told by the Administrators there won’t be enough money to pay them what they are owed. And I’m just wondering whether they may be covered under the Fair Entitlement Guarantee that is the Commonwealths scheme, is that possible?  

MINISTER CASH:  In the first instance, the situation that Queensland Nickel is currently in is that they have appointed administrators and as I have said, the Government’s position is we would certainly hope that the administrators can now work through what is going on and the situation can be improved. Now, in the event that this does not occur, there is a scheme available that is called the Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme, or FEG. It is a last resort financial assistance scheme; it is provided by the Australian Government and it relates to unpaid employee entitlements, following the liquidation of a company and where there are no other sources of funds to pay for those entitlements. It is important to understand though that FEG, or the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, is only available if the company goes into liquidation. So the point that I really want to stress is that given the early stage of the administration process I really don’t want to discuss the availability of FEG at this time; and I would certainly hope the circumstances can be worked through and can be improved.

EMMA GRIFFITHS:  Michaelia Cash thanks very much for your time today.

MINISTER CASH:  Pleasure to be with you Emma.


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