MPI – Youth unemployment

Monday, 28 November 2016

Mr PITT (HinklerAssistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) (15:43): It is a great pleasure to see you in the chair, Deputy Speaker Coulton. I always enjoy an MPI. It is an interesting process. Certainly, like everyone, I use the normal sort of process. You have a look and you listen to those opposite. You take a few notes for a couple of minutes, you counter that and then you deliver your own message. So I listened very closely to the member for Chifley for 10 minutes. What did I hear? I heard a litany of complaints. I did not hear a single idea—not one. I thought, ‘This is actually a serious issue.’ I know it is in your electorate; it certainly is in mine. I thought that perhaps I could come and hear something important from the member for Chifley, but, no; all we got was a litany of complaints.

Mr Tudge: Don’t have such high expectations.

Mr PITT: No, I will not have high expectations. I certainly will not have them again. The member for Cunningham came in to talk about worker exploitation. But, as you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, the people on this side actually did something about worker exploitation. I know because I was one of them. We delivered Taskforce Cadena. We delivered the Migrant Workers Taskforce. We delivered the extra $20 million to Fair Work to help them crack down on the people that are doing the wrong thing. Now, I did not see any sign of the unions, not one. What we saw from those opposite, when they were in government for many years, were more reports—more reports, more reports, more reports. We have taken real action.

Once again, when we look at the frontbench of those opposite, what we see is the ‘Ministry for Complaints’. I cannot let an opportunity go by. I was in here with the shadow minister for agriculture earlier when he was talking about the backpacker tax. I said to the shadow minister: ‘You’ve really taken an opportunity now. This is about your time in the sun. It’s not about an outcome for the people we are here to represent; it’s about you.’ Where has he been? He has been hiding away in the far corner, with nothing to say, for a long period of time. In fact, he dragged out a list of rural members. He was a few short. He got to 20. It was not quite enough. I did suggest to the shadow minister for agriculture that I would send him a map so he could perhaps use that to help him find his way in rural Australia to actually talk about what agreed positions mean, the NFF—all those types of things. We took months of consideration, months to talk to those stakeholders, and what happens? They blow it up. What do they come up with? 10½ per cent. That did not come from anything real. You just made it up.

Mr Husic: Youth jobs.

Mr PITT: This is about jobs. They took advice from Senator Lambie. Can you believe it? We had the member for Rankin here, that absolute bastion of economic advice, who gave us so many outcomes for this nation! Absolutely terrible. But, when we get around to it, we need to deliver better and stronger economies. How do we do that? We do that with trade. On this side of the House, we focus on things that deliver long-term employment opportunities. We have signed free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China. In fact, agriculture, at some $46 billion worth of exports, is now second only to iron ore. That delivers jobs, because, in the regions, they are the things that are important. Whether it is the construction industry, the agricultural industry, the education sector or services, it is about the more that we can deliver in trade, because trade equals jobs and more trade equals more jobs. They are the things that we intend to be focused on and we will continue to deliver. When you come from a regional area, as many of those on this side and the other side do—as I know you know, Deputy Speaker Coulton—it is a very important issue for youth.

When we talk about the Youth Employment Package, I think it is important that those opposite support it, but in fact they do not. I have been advised that they will not be supporting the youth jobs package of $840 million over four years. As someone who was an employer, who came through the system, was an apprentice, worked his way through to become a tradesperson, put himself through university, bought farms, owned small businesses and actually employed people, I know people need to have those basic skills. Every employer I talk to tells me that they will give our youth an opportunity, but they need to have the basic skills. They need to show up on time. They need to be prepared for work. They need to want to be there. They need to be willing to put their phone down for a few hours. This program will provide those opportunities: six weeks of training to get them job ready, to prepare; work experience, with 30,000 internships for up to 25 hours per week; $200 extra for jobseekers; $1,000 up-front for business, for the risks that they take, for the things that they have to do. It is not free to employ people; you have to put importance and value into what they do. There is also the youth bonus wage subsidy: $6½ thousand if I hire an eligible job-ready jobseeker. Deputy Speaker Coulton, I know you come from an area where this is an issue.

We are doing real things as a government. As a coalition government, we are delivering for our people, we are delivering for the regions and we are certainly delivering for those who are seeking a job. The Youth Employment Package is certainly a great component of that.

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