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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 583

Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (10:29): Mature Australians often make great workers. Older Australians are the brains trust of our nation, and I often thank them for the country that they have left me and the younger generation. Without them, Australia would not be the country that it is today. Many older Australians are looking for work, and savvy employers know that the advantages of hiring older Australians go beyond the skill set that they list on their resumes. I welcome changes that came into effect on 1 January this year simplifying Restart, which provides wage subsidies for employers who hire mature age job seekers. I say to the businesses in my electorate of Petrie: take advantage of that opportunity if you are looking to hire.

I also applaud the numerous community organisations who are dedicated to addressing the challenges that older workers face. In my electorate, I think of the Aspley Classes for Seniors and the Redcliffe Seniors Computer Club, just two of many such groups that work to upskill mature age workers. Technology moves quickly; a few short years off the tools can make a significant difference for any of us. Investing in mature age workers is well worthwhile. They have a strong work ethic, take few sick days, are loyal and are unlikely to job-hop from one job to another. Most importantly, they are brimming with experience—something that has been lost in some pockets of different industries, particularly since the end of the Howard government, with the GFC.

Post-GFC, it has been necessary to tighten belts. Employers needed to trim some of the fat, and jobs, unfortunately, needed to be shed when incomes dried up. Employers used a range of techniques to streamline their workforces. Cutting staff is never easy, and most employers went to great lengths to do the right thing, to minimise job losses, to provide choice and to offer fair compensation where losses were unavoidable. Many businesses gave voluntary redundancies, but these were often taken by long-serving staff near retirement age. This had the unintended effect of clearing some companies of experience.

I have been very heartened to hear of companies now actively recruiting mature age workers for the mentorship that they can offer to junior staff. If you look at the agriculture industry, which has seen a boost in the last 12 months, going from $46 billion to $60 billion in sales, and manufacturing, which has seen some 100,000 new jobs, this is an opportunity to employ some of those older people, to keep them on, to help young people coming through. I congratulate those employers committed to opportunities for mature age workers. It is in our best interest nationally.