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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13348


Mr MITCHELL (McEwenSecond Deputy Speaker) (20:59): Employment—how to get work, how to train for work, and your rights at work—these are important issues right across McEwen. Whether I am in Sunbury, Seymour, Mernda, Doreen, Craigieburn, Romsey, or the other towns in my electorate, employment is a constant topic of discussion and concern in our community. That is why, last Monday evening, I sponsored a gathering of around 40 people at the Sunbury Aquatic Centre to discuss employment with the shadow minister for employment, the member for Gorton.

There were people there from all walks of life, including businesses, and I will get to the discussion shortly. But let us look briefly at the statistics that are of concern. There are 23,600 more unemployed people in Victoria now than when federal Labor left office, in 2013. The Abbott-Turnbull government's lack of a youth unemployment policy has seen the rate in Victoria rise to 14.9 per cent. In Melbourne's north-west, talking in communities like Sunbury, Gisborne and Romsey and the Macedon Ranges, the youth unemployment rate is at 13.4 per cent. In the community of Sunbury itself, since 2013 the unemployment rate has risen from 3.2 per cent in Sunbury and Sunbury South to 4.2 per cent. That is a 30 per cent increase in the rate of unemployment in Sunbury alone. Across the electorate of McEwen unemployment has gone from 4.2 per cent in 2013 to 5.5 per cent today.

These are not just cold, hard figures on a page. These figures reflect the lived experience of people in our community—people trying to put their kids through school, pay their mortgage or their rent and put food on the table. We must do better than this, and this was part of our discussion at the forum. I do not have time to cover in detail all of the topics we discussed, but let's go through some of the more important elements. We talked about the increasing rate of youth unemployment. The fact is, it is not only socially unfair but it is also economically stupid not to address this problem. We also discussed the impact of technology on the way we work and train; the importance of STEM in our schools; the coming impacts on all manufacturing in Melbourne and beyond of the shutdown of the automotive industry; how Sunbury dealt with the closure of Ansett, what we had learnt from that, and what might be able to be applied today; discrimination against older workers and migrant workers; career advice in schools and universities; and, the growing issue of disreputable RTOs and what to do to avoid them and shut them down. These are just a few of the issues we covered.

We can do better, and this government must certainly do better. Only two weeks ago the Abbott-Turnbull government announced new funding under the Melbourne's North Innovation and Investment Fund that ignored places like Sunbury—$4 million in grants for projects meant for Melbourne's north, but nothing for our community.

I strongly support investment in jobs in our region, but the Abbott-Turnbull government needs to be smarter about ensuring that the jobs are located closer to where people live. We are seeing extraordinary residential growth in the outer north, some of the most significant growth in Australia, but we are not seeing the investment from the federal government that will support jobs and families in our communities.

It is pretty clear that the Turnbull government has not even considered growth north of Campbellfield and will not put any money in to the businesses north of there. Both Hume and Whittlesea have significant populations north of the traditional manufacturing suburbs. Whilst totally ignoring the growing population, the Abbott-Turnbull government has shunned Sunbury and our communities in the Calder corridor. Anyone who has any understanding of our region will know that our roads are clogged and infrastructure investment is not keeping pace with growth. This has been exacerbated by four years of zero spending by the Baillieu-Napthine government on road investment, which means that we are now four years further behind than where we were before.

We do not need any more people having to drive south in the morning and north in the afternoon, spending hours in traffic that could otherwise be spent productively at work or at home. What we need is jobs investment close to the communities that are growing.

I want to thank all who attended the meeting, including the member for Gorton, for contributing to an important discussion. This government must do better in the way it deals with employment in our community and it must do better for our families and for our kids. Without investment in jobs and employment in our region the families already struggling from massive cuts to manufacturing and the airline industry will find it more difficult to continue to keep their heads above water.

It is not right, and this PM needs to stop talking at people and start listening to them. He needs to listen to people and drive investment in to our outer suburbs and give our residents a fighting chance.