Employment, Workplace Relations Take Note of Answers

It is quite Orwellian to rewrite history in the way that the Labor Party seek to do at the moment. They think that if they repeat it often enough or loud enough or in a shrill enough voice that somehow that will make it fact. Well, the facts speak very clearly for themselves. Let’s go to this issue of employment and the unemployment rate and the figures that have come out. I will repeat what I said last night in this place, because clearly Senator Lines and members on the other side did not listen.

Michael Janda, business reporter for the ABC—and the ABC is no great friend of the coalition—stated in his article published yesterday, ‘The reason unemployment jumped, despite the much better than expected growth in employment, was that the participation rate soared.’ That means that because there are more people now who have the confidence to put their hands up and say, ‘You know what, I’ll give it a go; I’ll see if I can get a job,’ the participation rate is higher. In fact, there was an increase of some 78,600 people who decided that conditions looked good enough that they thought they had a chance of getting a job, so they put their hand up and said, ‘We’ll give it a go.’

All the economists were saying, ‘Yes, we were expecting some jobs growth but 38,500 in the quarter to July was beyond our expectations.’ That is why this government can say, looking at the number of jobs that have been created—336,000 jobs to date—that we are well and truly on track to achieving the creation of one million jobs in the first five years of this government. The important part, though, that the ALP just do not seem to get their heads around is that you need to create the right conditions for employment, for employers to have the confidence to invest and to employ people and to create jobs.

Let’s go to things like the Productivity Commission—yet another scare campaign from members opposite and another scare campaign from the unions. Look at the serious people within the ALP, like their shadow employment minister; what does he say? He says, ‘Those arguments about things like penalty rates, I believe those arguments should be put and submitted to the independent umpire’—the independent umpire, what a good idea. That is the same approach that the coalition has. That is why it was established. Rather than have a scare campaign about things like penalty rates, the independent umpire is there to deal with it. Mr O’Connor, in fact, has said that all these things should be looked at. He says, ‘I’m not suggesting for a moment that there aren’t provisions, including penalty rates, that should not be looked at.’

Rather than running a scare campaign against the coalition, the facts say that we are increasing business confidence. The rate of jobs growth is four times under this government’s watch than what it was under Labor when we came to power in 2013. The actual number of jobs is increasing. We are well on our way to a million. The important part is that we are changing the conditions: things like the carbon tax. People ask: why didn’t BHP go ahead with their development at Olympic Dam, which would have created thousands of jobs in South Australia? Well, in 2012 when they decided to pull their plans, that was when the carbon tax came into effect. BHP is the largest user of electricity in South Australia. Why? The second highest cost in running a copper mine is electricity. So at the very time when they would have been hoping to start recouping their investments from the expansion of Olympic Dam, under Labor’s plan the carbon cost was going to be $350 per tonne. At $23 a tonne, that contributed to South Australia’s electricity being the most expensive in the country.

Labor have not learnt from that. They are still looking at reintroducing pricing on carbon that, according to their own modelling, will push the price back to $209 per tonne. Is it any wonder that they do not understand that the way to create jobs is to set the conditions so that people have the confidence to invest? The coalition is doing that. We have abolished the carbon tax and we have introduced small business tax cuts. We are creating the opportunities for jobs and we are seeing those results. (Time expired)