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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3171

Mr BROAD (Mallee) (16:57): It gives me pleasure to talk about the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Jobs Path: Prepare, Trial, Hire) Bill 2016. I have listened for the last half an hour. I have listened to the criticisms, but I did not hear too many solutions. I guess that is the challenge we have as a country. Sadly, we have 600,000 Australians who are living in a household where no-one has ever held a job. That is staggering. That means that there are young Australians who have not seen the model of mum and dad getting up and going to work. There are young Australians who do not know the value of a work ethic. There are young Australians who do not know that, in working, you can have a sense of purpose and self-worth and an opportunity to better yourself.

So I think it is important for members on both sides of this parliament to think very creatively about how we address this major challenge. The first thing you have to do if you are going to have jobs for Australians is have something you can produce. You have to have a marketplace for those jobs. I am pleased to say that, under our leadership within this government, we have been able to develop three key free trade agreements, with China, Japan and South Korea. People ask: how do you draw the links? I am going to explain just how clear those links are in the electorate that I represent.

Last week I was in both Beijing and Tokyo. I was in Beijing launching nectarines into China. Our nectarine growers have been screwed over for a long time by the supermarkets—that is a very descriptive parliamentary term but an accurate term. As we have found greater markets, they have then been able to get better prices. So it was really pleasing that this year, for the first time, we are going to get nectarines into China.

We have also seen this recently with table grapes, which are grown in the Mallee. Table-grape season is soon, so people in the gallery might want to look for some good, fresh table grapes soon. They have been getting great prices into Japan, into China and into Korea. The outworkings of that mean that people are planting more plantings and people are looking to hire more staff. The local Toyota dealer told me he has had the best year he has ever had. He is putting on apprentices. He is selling utes and products. So, creating the marketplace creates the opportunity.

The next challenge for us, though, is to take that opportunity and turn it into a reality of jobs for young Australians. Now, we have had a discussion in the public domain around backpackers, who are an essential part of our workforce. But we do not want to have jobs just for foreign workers. More importantly, we want to have jobs for young Australians.

If you go and talk to people who are potential employers, they will say, 'The difficulty we have with employing young Australians is that they are not job ready in an aptitude or OH&S sense.' What the measure in this bill is attempting to do is to create a pathway for those young Australians to go from being effectively unemployed to being in gainful employment. Keep in mind that, as I said, 600,000 Australians are in households where they have never seen a model of working people. We are taking young Australians who have been on unemployment benefits for six months—so they have been looking, but they have not been successful—and we are saying to them, 'We are going to invest in you by giving you some training, some basic OH&S.'

I was and still am a farmer, and I used to do a lot of youth work with the Salvos. I dealt with a lot of these kids. I would take some of these young unemployed kids out to my farm and get them on a handpiece, doing pretty hard physical work. They would say to me, 'I'm a bit disadvantaged. I've got ADHD, I've got difficulty with my concentration, I'm hyperactive.' But, after dragging sheep out and crutching them all day, they slept at night. They were very tired. I got some of these young guys out and they actually helped paint my house. They are supposed to have attention deficit disorder, but they could do the skirting and the cutting-in. It was a matter of working with these kids, getting them through the first step.

The Youth Jobs PaTH program is about that. It is about getting them job ready before they go and work in a workplace. Why this program is so much better than a work for the dole program is that you are putting a young Australian in a real workplace, not a token workplace. We are not asking a young Australian to go and pick up rubbish for the council, like in a work for the dole program. It is not a mickey mouse job. We are putting them amongst real men and women who are holding down jobs. We are putting them in the orchards, we are putting them in the almond fields, we are putting them in small manufacturing, and they are working with real Australians. It is like having a hit of tennis—I do not know what you are like at tennis, Mr Deputy Speaker Vasta, but, if you have a hit of tennis with someone like me, I can guarantee that you are not going to lift your game. However, if you have a hit of tennis with JA, John Alexander, former Australian tennis champion, you are going to lift your game. If you put young Australians in the workforce, where they are working with people who are already in the industry, they will learn the tricks of the trade.

The secret of success is very simple, and if there is something that I want people to take home from this speech today—someone said this to me once, and I have always remembered it—it is: look around at what everybody else is doing and do a little bit more. That is the secret of success. It is pretty simple: look around at what everyone else is doing and do a little bit more. If you are in a workplace and you are trying to do a little bit more than everyone else is doing, the boss notices you, and that is how you get a promotion.

So we take these young Australians and put them in an internship. You have to understand that there has to be an incentive for the employer to take on an intern, because that intern's productivity is not going to be great. If we are honest, it is not going to be great. I have had these kids on my farm. They might break something. They might set the place on fire—that is a risk on a farm. You have to understand that their productivity is not going to be great. But you are doing this because you believe in the future of our young workers.

So you take these young people on. It is up to 12 weeks that they are working in that situation, and that is a good length of time. They are learning off one another and they are getting a sense of self-worth. They are also getting a little bit of extra money. It is amazing what happens when people who are not used to getting money get a little bit of extra money. Suddenly they get a little bit of extra freedom. And I saw this when I did some youth work with these kids. You give them a little bit of extra money and, suddenly, yes, they are tired, but they get to take their girlfriend out to Maccas. They got to put a new stereo in their car. It actually starts to light the fire in the eyes of young Australians who never thought they could aspire to something—now, they think, perhaps they could aspire a little bit more. And that is what this is all about. At the end of 12 weeks we want them to be so enthusiastic about their employment that the boss says, 'Actually, this guy is really worth investing in.'

I have been out talking to potential employers across Wimmera and Mallee, and they are pretty keen to take on young Australians. They actually are. They know that it is a cost to them. And they know that even with a wage subsidy it is a cost to them. Often a tradie who is an employer will say: 'It takes more time when you have an apprentice. I am not as productive when I have an apprentice. But, you know, I'm a small-business man and I am passing on a skill.' That lights their fire. And so we in this program then give a wage subsidy for a further 12 months for that young Australian to be working in that business. Then, hopefully, at the end of that they are up and running.

Successive governments have tried many, many things to try and address the problem of the 600,000 Australians who are unemployed and how to move them into the workforce. They have tried the big stick approach—which, I have to say, was some of the 2014 budget that we tried—which was, 'You've got to get out there and look for 40 jobs a month'. I never supported that. It was not workable. They have tried the sugar approach: give you more money and more money. That has never really worked. They have tried the Work for the Dole approach but it has never led to any real employment because it has not been in a real employment setting.

So I really think this is worth breathing life into. I have heard all the criticisms from the member for Chifley and I wonder if his criticisms would be as severe if he took off his opposition hat. I think if you look at this very clearly, you will see that the idea of taking a young Australian and getting them working safely in a workplace—and the idea of immersing them with employees so they get into the work culture and they get a bit of extra money, and the idea of subsidising that ongoing employment for that first 12 months—is perhaps the best model that has ever been put forward in this parliament.

Sure, there will be some changes that will need to be made as we roll it out. But the principle is very sound. I have seen it on my own farm when I worked with some of these young unemployed Australians. I have seen it from their perspective. I have seen it from the perspective of an employer. And I am really pleased that we are allocating some money to this.

One of the things I think is also very fair about this is that, if at the end of that 12-month period, or even less than that time, that person through no fault of their own is sacked—and that does happen at times—that person does not have to go on a waiting list to receive unemployment benefits. That young Australian will be able to go straight back on to unemployment benefits while they look for another job. I think that is very fair. If we think this through we will see that this is really about nurturing, mentoring and transitioning a young Australian—and, frankly, the longer they stay unemployed, the more unemployable they are—and moving them into the opportunities that are there before them.

This is what defines us as a country. We as a government have the macro right. We have the macro settings whereby there are now more job opportunities in my patch than there have ever been. Yet, at the same time, there is higher youth unemployment in my patch. We needed something to be that nexus, to be that transition period. This I think has the potential to do that. I am really proud to speak on it. I look forward to seeing it implemented in my patch. It makes me proud to be part of a government that can see the macro policy but is also making sure that we turn the macro policy about good financial settings into great job opportunities for young Australians. You have to say to those young Australians, 'The best thing we can do for you is get you a job, get you an opportunity, and for you to seize that opportunity, take that opportunity and make something of yourself, and you'll look back on your life and say, I started from nothing, but I'm really proud of what I've been able to achieve.'