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Thursday, 4 February 2016
Page: 566

Women in the Workforce

Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (14:03): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the number of women in full-time work in Australia? How will the government's childcare policies encourage greater workforce participation and generate jobs and growth?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:04): I thank the honourable member for her question. Our government is directing every sinew of its efforts to set Australia up as an innovative, dynamic 21st century economy. That is our goal—every lever of policy is pulling in that direction. And there is nothing more important in that endeavour than harnessing the power of women; increasing their participation in the workforce is a critical part of this agenda.

Last year, 2015, the labour force participation rate increased by half of a per cent, 0.5, the most rapid calendar-year growth since 2006. A key driver of that growth was the increase in the female participation rate. There is a greater percentage of women working now than ever before—the largest increase since 2005 in one year: 0.9 of a per cent. Almost 60,000 more women than men entered the workforce in 2015.

It is absolutely critical, and it is obvious to all members, I am sure, that, if we are going to take advantage of our greatest resource, which is our human capital—the men and women of Australia—we have to take advantage of all of our population, men and women. So the more Australian women can contribute their talents to our workplaces, their ingenuity to our national enterprise—the more that that occurs—the stronger our economy will be, the better prospects our children and grandchildren will have in the years ahead.

Now, child care is a key driver of that participation for families, and that is why, through our Jobs for Families package, the government is delivering a simpler, more affordable, more flexible, accessible childcare system for families who rely on child care, in order to enable the parents to work. So we welcome today's independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It projects the equivalent of 20,000 full-time workers will join the workforce as a result of the government's new childcare subsidy. I quote the Goodstart Early Learning CEO, Julia Davison, who commissioned the report. She said:

The Jobs for Families childcare package will deliver a significant economic gain for our nation by making returning to work more attractive for parents.

Our government is giving the leadership, it is giving the means, to ensure that all Australians participate in our 21st century economy and that, above all, women are able to do so as well.