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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 45


Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (14:33): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the government's plan to grow the economy and generate new job opportunities for Australians? How does a strongly performing construction sector help create jobs and growth?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:33): I thank the honourable member for her question. We are living in times of unprecedented opportunity but they are also challenging times. The growth in the global economy, the opportunities that have been opened up, especially by the efforts of the trade minister, are enormous. Australians have never had greater opportunities—whether as families, as individuals, as businesses—than they have today. But we have to keep on ensuring that we are removing barriers to their industry, to their enterprise.

That is why we have opened up markets with the free trade agreements. Our response to the Harper review encourages competition and innovation. We are investing more than $50 billion in infrastructure. Our innovation agenda helps to create a modern dynamic 21st century economy, which prepares our children for the jobs of the future and ensures that all businesses—large and small, old and new—are positioned to take advantage of the enormous opportunities for growth.

The formula is working. Last year Australia generated 301,300 new jobs. Over 60 per cent were full-time. Youth unemployment is at its lowest rate since July 2013. Female participation reached a record high in the fourth quarter of last year: more Australian women in full-time work than ever before. Every lever of the government, every lever of our economic policy is directed at building on this strong performance.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield will cease interjecting!

Mr TURNBULL: One of the most important sectors, one of the biggest drivers of economic growth and jobs, is the construction industry. It directly employs more than a million Australians. The construction industry, the construction sector, does not need intimidation, thuggery or job-destroying industrial conflict. In recent years, we have seen the number of days lost to industrial disputes come down in most industries. That is good. Construction is the exception.

Today, the government has reintroduced the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No. 2], which will re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. A well-regulated construction industry will attract more investment. It will generate more jobs. It is good for the economy. It is good for workers. It is good for the members of the unions. This is a critical test of the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition. All of the evidence that came out in the Heydon royal commission demonstrated—incontrovertibly—that there is a massive cultural endemic problem.

Mr Dreyfus: No, it didn't!

Mr TURNBULL: In the construction sector we need an independent regulator. We need to bring it back for jobs and for growth.

Mr Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen will cease interjecting as will the member for Isaacs.