Doorstop: national unemployment, WA election, ABCC and Registered Organisations bills, Trump Administration

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


MINISTER CASH:   Well good morning, everybody. This morning we’ve seen the unemployment figures for October 2016 released. The Government is pleased that the unemployment figure remains steady at 5.6 per cent. This is actually the lowest it has been, or the equal lowest, since February 2013. We also saw unemployment in Australia decrease by 2,000 over the last month, to now stand at approximately 705,000. This is also the lowest unemployment has been since November in 2013.

Over the last month, we saw the economy create approximately 9,800 jobs, and this is very much fuelled in part by very strong growth in full-time employment of approximately 41,000 jobs. In terms of youth unemployment, we’ve seen the figure decrease by 0.2 percentage points, from 12.7 per cent to 12.5 per cent. So the economy is still creating jobs.

Since we came to office the economy has created around 470,000 jobs and, in the last 12 months alone, the economy has created 102,000 jobs. But this Government, the Turnbull Government, does not rest on its laurels, and that is why every policy lever that we can put in place that will create jobs, that is exactly what we do. We understand that governments don’t create jobs – employers do. What governments do is set the framework in which business and employers operate. We can either set a framework in which they prosper and grow, which is what we are all about, or alternatively we can do what the Labor Party does every time they get into office – they institute job-destroying policies. This Government is all about jobs and growth, and every lever we pull is designed to do exactly that.

Any questions?

QUESTION:  While there’s been a big increase in full-time work in the past month, it has virtually stalled over the past four years, while the number of part-time positions is booming. Is that a concern for the Federal Government?

MINISTER CASH:   Well, we’ve always maintained that we are a transitioning economy, and certainly in terms of the transition from the mining and construction boom into sectors that are more services-orientated – so retail, tourism and hospitality – there is the expected growth in part-time employment. But from the Government’s perspective, employers in a transitioning economy, they have a choice. They could, if they wanted to, lay people off, but under this Government and in this economy they’re not doing that. They are making that choice to keep people on, and that is a good thing. And going back to the jobs figures for last month alone, you’re at 9,800 jobs created, but, in particular, fuelled by that huge increase in full-time jobs. That’s a good thing.

QUESTION:  So do you think that it shows that there are more people that want the security of full-time work but can’t get it, looking at the past years?

MINISTER CASH:   Again, we are very, very pleased that the unemployment rate in Australia is the lowest since it was when we got into office. So that is a good thing. In terms of job creation, if you look at over the last 12 months the economy has created around 102,000 jobs, and since we came to office around 470,000 jobs. What people want is a Government that recognises you need to invest in job-creating policies, and the figures alone are evidence that that is exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing.

QUESTION:  And whilst in WA the jobless rate has hit, I think it’s 6.5 per cent. So what do you think that says for this state?

MINISTER CASH:  Look, what I see, in particular in relation to the fact that we have a state election in March of next year, when people are thinking about who they want to govern Western Australia, you want a Government that, like the Federal Government, the Federal Turnbull Government, is going to invest in job-creating policies, and that’s what the Barnett Government is all about. We’re going to see now the $400 million lithium processing plant in Kwinana take off. That’s going to create around 620 jobs. When you look at the job-creating policies that the Barnett Government has introduced since being in office – Roe 8, Elizabeth Quay, the Perth Stadium – they have created almost 20,000 jobs. And guess what? The Labor Opposition said no to every single one of those major infrastructure projects. So if Mark McGowan and Labor in WA had been in place, just like Bill Shorten and Labor at a federal level, people in Western Australia would be denied jobs. So what you want from a state level, just like what you want from a federal level, is a Government that understands jobs and growth and invests in the infrastructure that will create those jobs.

QUESTION:  But the current Liberal State Government was in place whilst Australia has dropped to this low.

MINISTER CASH:   And that is because, I think, of all of the states in terms of the transitioning economy, Western Australians understand the transition better than anybody; the reason being we are the big mining and resources state. And I think across Australia we know we are moving from that intensive investment in mining and resources, to investment in the services industry, and that is certainly reflected when you look at the growth figures in Western Australia in terms of where the jobs are being created.

So we are a transitioning economy, but in terms of a transitioning economy, what you want is a Government that understands you need to invest in infrastructure. When you invest in infrastructure you create jobs, hence Roe 8, the Perth Stadium, Elizabeth Quay – almost 20,000 jobs. $400 million lithium processing plant in Kwinana – an additional 620 jobs. Labor said no, and when you’ve got a transitioning economy in particular you don’t need a Labor Government.

QUESTION:  There are still, though, more than 90,000 people in WA that are out of work. I mean, just regardless of the transitioning economy [indistinct].

MINISTER CASH:   As a Senator from Western Australia, obviously you are always concerned when you see an unemployment rate at the level it is in Western Australia. But again, it goes back to what do you want out of your Government? Do you want a Government that says no to job-creating policies, that supports the imposition of a huge carbon tax which drives up the price of electricity? Do you want a Government that supports the imposition of a mining tax in a resources-based economy, or do you want a Government that recognises we are transitioning and invests in infrastructure-creating projects, which is exactly what the Barnett Government is doing?

QUESTION:  Is it enough, though?

MINISTER CASH:   You can always do more, and that’s whether you’re a federal government or a state government. But the stark difference is Labor at a state level, just like Labor at a federal level, they don’t get that governments don’t create jobs. They think they do. They don’t. Governments create the framework in which employers operate, and it goes back to you can have a government that creates a framework in which employers prosper and grow – which is what the Turnbull Government is all about and the Barnett Government at a Western Australian level – or you can put in place a Shorten Government or a McGowan Government, which in turn will mean job losses across the board.

QUESTION:  If I could just move on, have you secured the support of the Senate crossbench to pass the ABCC and the Registered Organisation bills?

MINISTER CASH: In relation to these two pieces of legislation, they are a key part of the Turnbull Government’s economic agenda. We dissolved the Parliament on the basis of the importance of these two pieces of legislation, and we intend to introduce them into the Parliament next week and have them debated. I have always said that I will not comment on crossbench negotiations. However, I have been very impressed with the way the members of the crossbench have approached the legislation in terms of allowing me to put my case, ask questions, and having me answer.

But I would say this: this is not just about the crossbench. This is about Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party. Bill Shorten talks a big talk, but he fails to walk the walk every single time. Bill Shorten next week could do exactly what he says he’s committed to. He says: I am committed to stopping bullying and thuggery in the building and construction sector, and yet he refuses. He refuses because the CFMEU have told him not to support the re-establishment of the ABCC.

QUESTION:  The legislation, though, is dependent on securing the support of the crossbenchers. So how do you feel going into next Tuesday?

MINISTER CASH:   Again, these are important pieces of legislation, but I’m not going to put all the pressure on the crossbench. This is a test for Bill Shorten. In relation to the registered organisations legislation, which will be debated on Monday, does Bill Shorten stand up for the two million Australians who are members of registered organisations? Does he support the fact that they should know that the money that they give to their registered organisation is being spent transparently and openly and in their interests? Or does he support Craig Thomson’s approach to spending the money of the members on prostitutes, holidays and KISS concert tickets? You name it, they spent it. We say that is wrong. So, on Monday, Bill Shorten and Brendan O’Connor, they have a real test. Will you stand side-by-side with Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal-National Government and support the two million Australians who hand over their money to registered organisations and ensure that their money is spent in their interests, or will you continue to support unions who utilise their members’ money as their own personal piggybanks?

And in relation to the Australian Building and Construction Commission, this is a key part of our economic agenda. In every other industry in Australia, when you go to work on a daily basis, you have to comply with the rule of law. Why is it that, in the Australian construction industry, Labor accepts that you don’t have to? When it comes to the cost of public infrastructure, why does Labor accept that Australians should pay up to 30 per cent more for their hospitals, for their schools, and for their roads? We say that is wrong and, again, next week is yet another test for Bill Shorten and Labor. Will you stand up for Australia’s national and economic interests, or will you simply lie down and do what the CFMEU, yet again, tells you to do?

QUESTION: Just quickly, going back to the question, have you secured the support of your [inaudible]?

MINISTER CASH:   Again, I’ve always said I won’t comment on crossbench negotiations, but I’ve been very impressed with the way the crossbench have approached the negotiations with me to date.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Last question, thanks.

QUESTION:  Sure. Are you worried a 15 per cent corporate tax rate in the US [indistinct] Australia [indistinct] investment?

MINISTER CASH:   Well, the Turnbull Government took to the election a 10-year enterprise tax plan. Just like the incoming Trump Administration, the Turnbull Government also recognises businesses create jobs, and you need to back business and ensure that you have the appropriate framework in place. We have a 10-year tax enterprise plan looking at lowering taxes across the board and, in particular, in the first instance, for small business. We say to Labor: get on board with us. We need to operate in a globally competitive environment. Please support our 10-year enterprise tax plan, because it is all about being competitive in that global environment and acknowledging that you do need to incentivise business; you need to incentivise investment so that you can grow the economy and ultimately create jobs.

QUESTION:  Just lastly, your thoughts on Malcolm Turnbull getting Donald Trump’s number off Greg Norman?

MINISTER CASH:   Oh, at the end of the day, the Prime Minister of Australia has spoken with the incoming President. We have a very, very strong relationship, and we look forward to working with the incoming administration. Thank you very much.


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