Category: Get the facts

Jobs for Families child care package

Australian families want better and more affordable childcare and the Coalition Government is determined to deliver it through the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017.

This the most significant reform to the early education and care system in 40 years.

We are working to introduce new arrangements that better target support to hard-working Australian families who are earning the least and working the longest hours, by:

  • Abolishing the $7,500 rebate cap for families earning less than around $185,000

  • Increasing the subsidy rate to 85 per cent for our lowest earning families and tapering that down so it is lower for families earning the most; and

  • Introducing an hourly fee cap to put downward pressure on the incessant child care fee increases.

Our reforms will increase investment in child care support for Australian families, which is why they have to be paid for.

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Statement on backpacker tax

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on Friday, November 11, 2016 in relation to questions about the backpacker tax: 

Why has the backpacker tax been removed from the Senate schedule this week?

“The Senate cross benchers lack of understanding of this issue will cost farmers in regional Australia.

“The cross bench need to get out and talk to some people in regional Australia. Nineteen cents is an agreed position and it’s supported by the industry.”

When is it expected that it will be debated?

“When the Australian Labor Party starts seeing sense and stops playing political games with growers businesses and regional economies.

“Right now they are preventing Australian farmers from delivering their produce to market.

“The idea that they can have their produce left in the paddock because of the cross bench chaos, in conjunction with the Labor party, is just abhorrent to me.”

I understand Hinkler region farmers are very worried that Labor’s push for a 10.5% tax could cause the Coalition’s 19% proposal to fail. Will you be fighting to make sure the 19% compromise, that the industry is happy with, goes through?

“I will continue to fight to ensure that growers have a labour force to be able to get their crops off, and spoke about this issue in Parliament this week. Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon doesn’t care about regional businesses. We have Free Trade Agreements which are benefitting our region, but Mr Fitzgibbon is more interested in cheap political gain.

“The Senate Inquiry, prompted by Labor, found that working holiday maker reform package should be passed.

“The committee is confident that the reform package will both ensure that WHMs are paying a fair share of tax, while ensuring Australia remains a destination of choice for WHMs.”

I’ve also been told that a reversion to the 32.5% tax could cost the government votes – that farmers and tourism operators ‘won’t forget’ and they feel their industry, and the tourism industry, is being put at risk for political gain. Is this on your mind as you debate this issue?

“The 32.5 percent tax rate applying to non-residents had been the law since it was increased from 29% by the previous Labor Government as part of the 2012-13 Budget.

“I understand that growers trying to run their business in Australia, and in particular in regional areas, are incredibly fed-up.

“They need certainty at a time when it’s vital to get people on the ground, yet the political game playing by Labor is causing them unnecessary stress.

“The Labor party and the Senate cross bench need to get out of the way of Australian industry, get out of the way of producers. Let them get on with what they are good at.  Pass this legislation.”

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Statement on National Stronger Regions Fund

Statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on 11 October 2016 in relation to the National Stronger Regions Fund:

“This region has received millions of dollars of federal funding, including $7.2 million for roads and black spots, $29.7 million for the Bruce Highway, $38 million for health – including Bundaberg Oncology Centre, Cancer Care services in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg – $138.636 million in aged care funding and new aged care services, $3.4 million for infrastructure at schools and $2.1 million for community groups and organisation.

“The National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) was a highly competitive, heavily subscribed round – 479 applications were submitted – and unfortunately not all applications can be funded. However, Queensland as a state did very well, receiving a quarter of the total funding.

“Each application was assessed by the Department on its own individual merit and against assessment criteria ranking things like job creation and economic benefit. Bundaberg Regional Council submitted a strong application and was successful.

“In relation to the IWC application, I cannot demand funding and neither can any politician demand funding be diverted to projects against the department’s criteria.

“The Department and Auditor-General strictly oversee these types of programs to ensure the absolute best use of taxpayers’ funds.  Taxpayers deserve to know their funds are being spent responsibly and with full accountability and that has occurred.

“NSRF is now closed to further applications, however when the Building Better Regions Fund round opens later this year, I encourage IWC to investigate if their project would be eligible.”

 

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Get the facts: unemployment on the Fraser Coast

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the Fraser Coast Chronicle on 10 August 2016 in response to questions about unemployment in the region:

1.       Unemployment is the single biggest issue in your electorate – what is the latest on attracting both public and private investment to the region?

5.       Are you confident you can bring the unemployment rate down, even if it is a fraction, within a year of being re-elected? If not within a year, within two? What is your goal to bring the unemployment rate down to by the end of this term?

The $20 million Wide Bay Burnett Jobs Package, announced during the election campaign, will bring forward local business investment and expansion, to create local jobs in the Hinkler electorate.

This new jobs package will give local businesses the confidence to invest and grow.

It will attract matching funding from participating businesses resulting in a total package of $40 million for the region, which is the economic boost it needs.

These grants will assist existing local businesses to grow and also offer incentives for metropolitan based companies to expand their businesses into the Wide Bay Burnett region which will in turn create new sustainable jobs.

The local community will be involved in assessing their region’s economic opportunities and develop tailored, local investment plans.

In the Hinkler electorate, businesses located in Bundaberg, Childers, Hervey Bay and surrounding areas will be eligible to apply for funding.

2.    Is there more confidence across the region from local businesses to employ staff since the election?

I believe this question would be more appropriate for the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce to answer.

3.    What is your advice to desperate job seekers on the Fraser Coast like Andrew doing all they can try to support their families?

The Coalition government has a range of measures to help job seekers stand out in what is a highly competitive market.

A range of programs and services are available through Jobactive to provide targeted support for job seekers, including Work for the Dole, wage subsidies of up to $6,500 (or up to $10,000 for mature age job seekers) that encourage and help businesses to give eligible job seekers a go, and the Job Commitment Bonus, which provides up to $6,500 to encourage Australians aged 18 to 30 who have been on income support payments to find a job and stay off welfare.

Jobactive is also aligned closely with the Australian Government’s Youth Employment Strategy which is delivering services to help young people into work, including the Empowering YOUth initiative, Engaging Early School Leavers initiative, Transition to Work service and the National Work Experience Program.

Job seekers also need to consider moving to where the work is. There is assistance available, with up to $9000 to help people relocate to take up a job.

4.    What is the latest updates on the unemployment status on the Fraser Coast? Has there been any improvements?

Please attribute the statement below to a spokesperson for the Department of Employment:

“The level of unemployment in the Fraser Coast Local Government Area (LGA) has decreased by 623 (or 13.7 per cent) over the year, to stand at 3,937 in the March quarter 2016 (latest available data). Against this background, the unemployment rate in the Fraser Coast LGA has fallen by 2.3 percentage points over the year, to 9.8 per cent in the March quarter 2016.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: More detailed and up-to-date labour force data are only available at the ABS Statistical Area Level 4 (4) level. The Fraser Coast LGA is located within the ABS SA4 of Wide Bay. However, as Fraser Coast only comprises around 33 per cent of the Wide Bay SA4, caution should be exercised in interpreting SA4 data as a proxy for labour market conditions in the LGA. In addition, ABS SA4 data have been exhibiting considerable volatility and should be viewed with caution.

6.    When it comes to youth unemployment promises ($840 million package), what can we expect for youth of the Fraser Coast and when will this come into effect in the local community?

Please attribute the below information to a spokesperson for the Department of Employment:

·         The core of the package is a new Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) initiative that will:

o   Prepare: From April 2017, Employability Skills Training to help young job seekers understand the behaviours expected by employers in the recruitment process and in the workplace.

o   Trial: From April 2017, voluntary internships to give young job seekers a chance to show what they can do in a real workplace.

o   Hire: From January 2017, a new Youth Bonus wage subsidy to support the employment of young people.

·         The Youth Employment Package also includes measures to complement the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, with an investment of $88.6 million over four years to encourage young Australians to start a business and create their own job. The following measures will commence from December 2016:

·         The highly successful New Enterprise Incentive Scheme will be expanded to offer an additional 2,300 places per year and broaden its eligibility so that more job seekers, including those not on income support, have the opportunity to participate in the program.

·         ‘Exploring Being My Own Boss’ workshops will be delivered nationally to assist job seekers interested in establishing a small business to understand what is required. An opportunity to participate in an internship with a small business to experience running a small business first hand will also be available.

·         Inclusive Entrepreneurship Facilitators in three regions with high youth unemployment will promote entrepreneurship and join up available services and programs such as jobactive, the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, microfinance services and start-up incubators.

·         Young people keen on creating their own jobs will be able to access Entrepreneurship Starter Packs that bring together this information, helping them to find the services and assistance they need.

·         The new Youth Employment Package builds on initiatives introduced by the Government last year (Youth Employment Strategy – Budget 2015-16) to help support youth employment.

·         These measures, combined with existing initiatives (including the Transition to Work service, Empowering YOUth Initiatives and ParentsNext), will put young job seekers on a positive path to finding and keeping a job, as we work towards growing our new economy.

·         Region-specific information about Transition to Work services:

o   Transition to Work services commenced in the Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast Employment Region on 14 March 2016. Job Futures and The Busy Group are providing these Transition to Work services to young people in a number of locations. The BUSY Group has a full-time site in Hervey Bay.

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Media statement: Support for Tobruk

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP regarding the Queensland State Government and Bundaberg Regional Council’s support for the proposal to secure the ex-HMAS Tobruk for a dive site:

“I congratulate the Queensland State Labor Government for getting on board with attempting to secure ex-HMAS Tobruk.

I also thank Tourism Minister Kate Jones for her support and the work she has done to progress the proposal.

“It’s a positive sign that the State Government can see the merits that this project would have for the Wide Bay region and the significant boost it could bring to the local economy with jobs and increased tourism.

“I also congratulate the Bundaberg Regional Council for its commitment today of $1 million to the proposal, matching the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s $1 million.

“With $2 million in funding support available right now, I believe the region is well-placed to make a positive bid for the ex-HMAS Tobruk if Queensland is successful in securing the vessel.”

 

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Media statement re: local growers not being paid

Media statement provided to the NewsMail on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 in relation to local growers not being paid:

“While it would be inappropriate to comment on specific individual cases, my office is aware of this issue.

“The Coalition Government established an Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit within the ACCC to conduct investigations and engagement in rural and regional areas with funding provided through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.”

“I have been in contact with Agriculture Commissioner Mick Keogh who confirmed the ACCC would look to hold an urgent meeting in Hinkler next month so producers can directly inform the Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit about the key competition and fair trading issues that are affecting them.”

“There are also existing avenues that growers can take if they are having problems of this nature.

“The mandatory Horticulture Code of Conduct includes stipulations around Terms of Trade between growers and wholesale market agents. The ACCC has a Horticulture Mediation Adviser service in place which can provide mediation services for parties with a dispute under the Horticulture Code.

“The Horticulture Code of Conduct was recently reviewed, with public and industry consultation, with the recommendations of the review submitted to Government for consideration.”

BACKGROUND:

Earlier this year, the Coalition Government appointed a dedicated Agriculture Commissioner – Mick Keogh – to the ACCC to identify and make decisions on competition, efficiency, transparency and trading matters in agriculture markets.

https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/australian-competition-consumer-commission/accc-chair-commissioners#commissioner-mick-keogh

Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit: https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/acccs-new-agriculture-unit-to-focus-on-supply-chains

Horticulture Code of Conduct:

https://www.accc.gov.au/business/industry-codes/horticulture-code-of-conduct

https://www.accc.gov.au/business/industry-codes/horticulture-code-of-conduct/horticulture-mediation-adviser-hma

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Statement on Gonski funding and Teachers Unions concerns

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on June 22, 2016 in response to questions about Gonski funding and concerns of the Teachers Union:

1 “The Coalition will not fund the full Gonski recommendations after 2017. The Teachers Unions claim that in 2018/19 alone that represents a $20m cut to schools funding for the Hinkler electorate.”

“The Prime Minister and state ministers agreed that discussions on new school funding arrangements should be concluded by early 2017, so the Teachers Union’s claims are just rubbish.

“There are no cuts to funding – the Coalition’s funding to schools will continue to increase from its current record levels.

“Between 2014 and 2017 the Coalition is delivering $426.2 million for Hinkler schools, so there is no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or additional resources. 

“David Gonski said just last month “needs-based funding is what I pushed for, and we have that”.

“And while funding is important, it’s what you do with that funding that matters. Australia’s international rankings for reading, literacy, maths and science have fallen between eight and 10 places.”

 2 Performance-based pay model for teachers. “There are strings attached to states who want to access future Federal funding, that states will have to enforce performance-based pay models. Studies have shown this model doesn’t work.”

“The Coalition’s schools reforms include linking teacher pay progression to the nationally agreed ‘Australian Professional Standards for Teachers’, not “performance pay”.

“Our reforms would ensure teachers are rewarded by demonstrating their teaching ability and effectiveness against these standards.

“This isn’t about paying teachers based on test results, it’s about paying those teachers who have demonstrated themselves to be our most capable teachers, to be able to lead in their school environment and mentor other teachers in that school environment.”

 3 A commitment from the Coalition that they want to increase the spread of standardised testing. “They want a Naplan-style test for every student, very year of their education. School communities are upset because it becomes about ranking and rating students, which is limited in use.”

“The Coalition is not proposing a formal test for Year 1 students. Our reforms would look to introduce an individual assessment of Year 1 students’ reading, phonics and numeracy skills to ensure the earliest possible intervention for students who need additional help.”

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Statement on NDRRA payments to regional Queensland

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on Monday, May 16, 2016 in response to questions about Natural Disaster Relief and Recover Arrangements payments to regional Queensland:

Any claims that recovery money has been ripped away from Queensland are completely untrue.

Since 2011, $7.9 billion has been provided to Queensland by the Commonwealth to assist in recovery from its natural disasters.

The NDRRA recovery money is still budgeted for; the Commonwealth has placed the funds over the next two financial years to ensure the funds are still available to Queensland – but we need to ensure the claims are eligible before they can be reimbursed.

Queensland’s own Audit Office found that over $115 million ineligible claims were paid against the Queensland Governments 2009-2012 NDRRA claims.

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Statement on GetUp campaign about hospital funding

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on Friday, May 13, 2016 in response to questions about the GetUp campaign about hospital funding:

What do these ‘cuts’ mean for the Bundaberg region?

The campaign by GetUp is out of date, factually incorrect and a deliberate attempt to mislead voters.

There are no cuts to hospitals under the Coalition Government’s hospital funding agreement with the states and territories.

The Coalition has publicly committed to investing over $95 billion in State and Territory hospitals over five years, yet GetUp has deliberately kept this fact from residents in Hinkler.

We will increase hospital funding by almost 23% percent by 2020.

Bill Shorten is planning to break Labor’s unfunded $57 billion hospitals promise from the Rudd-Gillard era and GetUp have clearly been instructed to create a distraction.

GetUp also failed to demonstrate a basic understanding of how hospital funding was allocated, basing its figures on bed numbers instead of hospital activity, and forgot to include every hospital in their scare campaign.

In a recent interview I (the NewsMail reporter) did with an emergency nurse at Bundaberg Hospital, I got the sense that hospital staff are already doing more with less, and beds are frequently at capacity, which has not always been the case. Is this the new reality for our health service? If not, what will be done to alleviate pressure on hospital staff?

The Federal Government provides health funding directly to the State Government. It is up to the State Government to decide how and where that money is distributed.

How much funding did Bundaberg Hospital receive in the latest budget, and what areas are most in need?

The Federal Government provides health funding directly to the State Government. It is up to the State Government to decide how and where that money is distributed. 

If the Labor Palaszczuk Government has taken funding away from the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service budget, then there are serious questions that need to be answered.

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Statement on Bundaberg Regional Council ‘wishlist’ items

Media statement from Keith Pitt MP provided to the NewsMail on Friday, May 13, 2016, about the Bundaberg Regional Council’s ‘wishlist’ items:

1 What items on this list do you think are a priority for this region and why? In other words, what items on this list will you fight for if elected?

Projects that create jobs in the Hinkler electorate are my priority, like creating a military dive wreck, which could bring an estimated $1 million to $4 million per year to the local economy.

It would be great to see the Bundaberg Regional Council match the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s $1 million commitment to the HMAS Tobruk project.

A number of the items on the council’s ‘wishlist’ are already in progress.

An application for funding for Stage 2 of the Multiplex under Round 3 of the National Stronger Regions program is in the assessment phase now.

In the Budget last week, $73.6 million over four years has been provided for the network of 55 Regional Development Australia Committees (RDAs), to foster and strengthen local leadership across regional communities.

Also announced in the Budget, the Roads to Recovery program will receive $400 million in 2019-20 and an additional $50 million per year from 2019-20 for local councils to construct and maintain local roads.

And the Black Spot Program will receive $60 million per year from 2019-20, in addition to the existing funding of $500 million (from 2014-15 to 2018-19).

I meet regularly with the Bundaberg Regional Council and I have supported many projects and funding applications the council has made.

I look forward to continuing this positive relationship with the new mayor and councillors.

However, the Friday before the Budget was handed down was the first time I was advised of several items on the council wishlist.

There are many funding programs the council can apply for and I will continue to give my support to worthwhile projects.

2 Are there any items on council’s list you think are not a priority for the region? Please explain why.

 

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