Responding to Shadow Treasurer and Local Jobs Program

2 Sep | '2020

Earlier today the Treasurer outlined the record fall of real GDP by seven per cent for the June quarter and the record fall in household consumption. As the Treasurer pointed out, today’s figures only confirm the recession. Australians know, because they are living it. The people of Moncrieff are living it.

But there’s a sense of hope and a sense of momentum, and that’s coming from this side of the House. When I visit local Gold Coast businesses, I so often hear that it would have been so much worse without the decisive action of the Morrison government. Small business owners tell me the doors are open thanks to the government support, giving them a bridge to their future. Workers tell me they still have a job thanks to JobKeeper, like Carol in Surfers Paradise, who has been working at the same restaurant for 25 years. She and all the staff at the restaurant are on JobKeeper. That decisive action has been on a tremendous scale. There has been over $300 billion in economic support packages by our government, and that has been so important for the Gold Coast: JobKeeper, cash flow boosts, the coronavirus supplement, stimulus payments, backing business investment, supporting apprentices and trainees, instant asset write-offs and more. That decisive action has prevented 700,000 people from losing their jobs. Unemployment would have been five per cent higher without the Morrison government’s support packages.

While the government has been spreading hope and delivering support, Gold Coasters get a very different message from those opposite. It’s a message of fear. The member for Rankin says we don’t have a plan. He sends his Brisbane mate Senator Watt down to the coast to spread fear and misinformation, ignorant of the reality, because Labor ignored the Reimagine Gold Coast forum with business and with industry leaders, supported by many members on this side of the House. But Gold Coasters aren’t listening to the Labor message of fear. The work ethic of people like Carol in Surfers Paradise can’t be crushed by Labor’s message of fear. Business and industry are leading the way and on this side of the House we are supporting them. I back business and I back industry.

The $62.8 million Local Jobs Program was announced yesterday by the minister. The program will deliver a local employment facilitator who will work with local stakeholders. Those stakeholders are the City Heart Taskforce that I convened in May, an across-industry task force who have already done the work at the Reimagine Gold Coast forum—which was a COVID-safe event held two weeks ago—that will provide the necessary insights to work alongside the Local Jobs Program. The Local Jobs Program will assist Gold Coasters with reskilling, upskilling and setting up employment pathways for local jobseekers. Through the forum, the City Heart Taskforce has ensured that the Gold Coast is ready, willing and able to work alongside the Morrison government to match skills with jobs through the Local Jobs Program and the local jobs plan. The National Skills Commission is part of the government’s $585 million package delivering skills for today and tomorrow, and its data will be used to assist jobseekers.

The government’s approach to skills and employment contrasts with the mess that Labor left behind when last in office. Nobody has forgotten the debacle of bogus courses by unscrupulous training providers permitted by Labor’s changes to the VET FEE-HELP program. I know Gold Coasters are relieved that during this pandemic the steady hands of our Prime Minister and our Treasurer are on the wheel, because instead of pink batts—remember those in the GFC?—they get JobKeeper and they get JobSeeker. The contrast could not be greater.

On the Gold Coast business leaders are determined to create jobs for today and tomorrow. The skills focus of this government is the best to complement it. The member for Rankin has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to jobs, because he doesn’t want to talk about the harm of the state border closure by his friend Annastacia Palaszczuk. When it comes to border closures he said today: ‘I think she’s been right.’ The member for Rankin is a supporter of an alternative plan for jobs. It is the Queensland Premier’s plan. It’s the plan for her job and it’s probably a plan for ‘dodgy Jackie’s’ job. It’s not a plan for Gold Coast jobs and it comes at the expense of Gold Coast businesses. The harsh border closures are hurting Gold Coast businesses, so that she can keep her job by looking tough rather than helping people doing it tough. By contrast, the Local Jobs Program is about putting Gold Coast jobseekers at the very heart of our city’s economic recovery.

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