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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1423

Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (12:22): Jobs and the cost of living rank as the most pressing issue in my electorate of Petrie. In fact, I know from speaking with my colleagues that these rank among the most significant issues weighing on the minds and lives of all Australians. When dealing with issues of this level of significance, it is important we do not muddy the waters of truth and fact. Maybe that is why I feel a little stroppy today. I am happy to take the odd hit. In fact, as someone for whom judo has been a large part of life, I have worn plenty. And as a representative of the people, the occasional touch-up comes with the territory, doesn't it?

I know the opposition does not care to let the facts get in the way of a good story. I am not of that ilk. And when it comes to jobs and the cost of living I resent being dragged into political poppycock. In the chamber last week I said you can purchase a house in my electorate for under $300,000. Queensland Senator Chris Ketter found that hard to believe. He said that I was out of touch. I will say it again here today: you can buy a house in my electorate for under $300,000. Senator Ketter would not know that, because he does not live in the electorate, but if he finds it so hard to believe then he might like to jump onto and scroll through the pages of homes for sale in my electorate for under $300,000. Also, I was looking at homes last night for under $300,000 in the neighbouring electorate of Longman, in Narangba. He is right, if you listen to Labor it is hard to believe. A home under $300,000 in the best electorate in the nation?

There is a serious side to proliferation of pollywaffle, coming out of the mouths of some of those with the wrong end of the stick. Today, one of the papers in my local area is running a story based on Senator Ketter's twaddle. It highlights the importance of doing your research and the value of rigour in reporting. Unfortunately, in this case, the journalist did not call me. I would like to put on the record and say to the media: 'My door is always open, and I am only a phone call away.'

With that off my chest I would like to shine the light on something a little more positive: a constructive approach to helping young people find work. I congratulate the government for the PaTH initiative. It will help vulnerable young people take advantage of job opportunities as the economy diversifies and transitions to broader based growth. Drawing together feedback from business, research, international best practice and domestic experience, the PaTH program is a win-win opportunity for job seekers and business. It is an innovative program that will make a tangible difference in the lives of young people who would benefit from assistance and encouragement to learn new skills, become job ready, get a job and stay in a job.

Australia's future growth and prosperity relies on having a sufficient workforce to fill the jobs of tomorrow. To do so, we need to increase workforce participation, especially by supporting young Australians to get and keep jobs. Youth unemployment in my electorate has dropped significantly in the past three years, but if there is even one young person in Petrie that wants a job and cannot find one, then youth unemployment will remain on my radar. I look forward to getting back into my electorate next week and speaking with businesses about opportunities to get involved with the PaTH program.

Opening the door to ongoing employment is vital for independence and long-term opportunity. It is the key to the great Australian dream, which for many remains represented as a good job and a goal for home ownership. Oh, and anyone looking for an affordable home knows where to find one. Just ask Senator Ketter: homes in Petrie for under $300,000. It is only a shame Senator Ketter does not quite fit the 18- to 25-year age profile for the PaTH program, because I think I might be able to assist him into a new job in real estate. I think he would go alright with a little training, but he would need to get a lot better at doing his sums.