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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 21

Employment


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. Last week the Prime Minister told the National Press Club:

… that's what we're about, more jobs and more opportunity.

With 34,000 full-time jobs lost in 2016 and 19,800 more people in the unemployment queue than when the Abbott-Turnbull government was elected, is it not clear that the coalition government is delivering fewer jobs and fewer opportunities?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:00): Senator Wong, happy new year to you, too. It is as clear as anything could be that there is only one side of Australian politics with any plan for Australia's future prosperity, and that is this side of politics; that is the Turnbull government. Senator Wong asks about the state of the economy. Let me remind Senator Wong that Australia's annual economic growth rate is now 1.8 per cent. That is faster than five of the G7 countries. Non-mining activity grew by 2.64 per cent over the year to September. When Mr Bowen was Treasurer in the Labor government, he left us with growth of 1.78 per cent in non-mining activity. That is the magnitude of the ramp-up under this government.

Senator Wong asks about unemployment. Unemployment is currently 5.8 per cent. Over half a million additional jobs have been created since September 2013, when the government was elected. There were 95,000 additional full-time jobs created in the last quarter of last year—95,000 additional full-time jobs. Jobs growth in the last quarter of 2016 was the strongest quarterly growth in jobs in six years. That is the fruit of this government's economic policies. Compare that to the position under the Labor government, when the number of unemployed increased by 43.9 per cent over the six years of the Labor government. The number of underemployed workers increased by 39 per cent under the six years of the Labor government.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a supplementary question.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:02): I refer the minister to what he told this chamber in November—that the key indicator of the health of the labour market is the unemployment rate. Is the minister aware that the unemployment rate to which he referred was in fact an increase to 5.8 per cent? What does he say to the 741,100 Australians who are unemployed about the health of the labour market?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:03): What I say to those people is that the conditions of the labour market are so buoyant that 95,000—as I said to you before, Senator Wong—additional full-time jobs were created in the last quarter of 2016 alone. Under this government, employment grew by 0.9 per cent over the calendar year 2016, and, since the government came to office, 519,300 jobs have been created, with employment standing at a record high today of 11,985,900. That is the story of the labour market under this government. By comparison, the only plan that the Labor Party has under Mr Shorten is for job losses. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a final supplementary question.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:04): Is the minister aware that the rate of annual job creation has more than halved since the 2016 election? Is it not clear that the Turnbull government's division and dysfunction is in fact delivering fewer jobs and fewer opportunities to Australians? When will this government start fighting for Australian jobs as hard as it fights amongst itself?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:04): Spare us the rhetorical flourishes, Senator Wong, please. We know what the Labor Party's position in relation to jobs is. It is to have fewer jobs and a poorer people, because the Labor Party, by standing in the way of the government's enterprise tax plan, will make it harder for businesses to expand and create new jobs. The Labor Party, by driving up the price of electricity, in particular, will make it harder to do business, harder for businesses to grow and employ more people and harder for poorer people to afford their fuel bills. That is what the Labor Party wants. This is the Labor Party, every one of whose senators is here at the behest of and as the hireling of trade union officials, who are not interested in creating new jobs, but in protecting the position of the officials— (Time expired)