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Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Page: 7435

Employment


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:14): My question is to the Minister for Employment, Senator Cash. I refer to the minister's statement in question time yesterday that the free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea would 'create up to 178,000 jobs by the time those agreements come into full force in 2035'. Does the minister stand by her claim?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:14): Yes I do and, certainly, that is what I was advised. But I think the more appropriate question for the Senate to be considering is: why do those on the other side hate the China free-trade agreement in particular? Why have you indulged in what is nothing more and nothing less than a xenophobic campaign that is solely aimed at ensuring that Australians going forward, young Australians, will not have the jobs that can be provided to them by the China free-trade agreement?

Mr President, do you remember last year when the President of China was in Australia and the free-trade agreement was signed? If I recall rightly, there was a lot of high-fiving done by those on the other side who wanted to claim credit in terms of the China free-trade agreement. But then of course we know what occurred. Calls were made by their mates—the puppet masters in the CFMEU—and they were told, they were given their marching orders—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! On my left and on my right.

Senator O'Neill: Mr President, I rise on a point of order: relevance. The senator has been asked to justify the 178,000 jobs that she claimed yesterday. She has made one short statement and then has completely moved away from that justification of the 178,000—

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, the minister was asked a direct question in relation to did she stand by her comment to which she replied in the affirmative and she is enhancing her answer, which she is entitled to do, and she is relevant to the original question. Minister, you have the call.

Senator CASH: You have got to love those on the other side, who continue to tell Australians that they are the great job creators, that they are the great protectors of the workers. They will come in here and quibble over the number of jobs that are going to be created by free-trade agreements. Look what Andrew Robb, the minister, has just done in relation to the TPP. This is a government that does not just talk about creating jobs; this is a government that has a plan, a plan of action to ensure that going forward jobs are created for Australians, and you just do not like it. (Time expired)

Senator Cameron interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left, Senator Cameron.

Senator Back interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my right as well, Senator Back.

Senator Rice interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Lines, you have a colleague on her feet waiting to ask a question.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my right and left.










Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:17): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. What is the basis for the minister's claim that the three North Asian free-trade agreements will create up to 178,000 new jobs by 2035?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:18): Sound modelling, I would suggest. Yet again, you come into this place and instead of congratulating us, instead of showing a little bit of bipartisanship when it comes to the issue of job creation, all you do is come into this place and quibble. It is a fact that free-trade agreements do create jobs. It is a fact that more jobs will now be created by those of us on this side of the chamber because we have finally entered into those free-trade agreements. If you look at the modelling by the Centre for International Economics, what does that show in relation to our three free-trade agreements with China, south Korea and Japan? It shows they will create thousands of jobs, make households $4,348 better off and boost GDP by $24.4 billion between 2016 and 2035. Again, why do you hate job creation? (Time expired)

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left and on my right.

Senator Cormann interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, order on my right.




Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:19): Mr President, I ask a final supplementary question. Doesn't the government's own modelling show the North Asian free-trade agreements will increase employment by 5,434 jobs in 2035? In light of this, hasn't the minister misled the Senate? Doesn't creating jobs involve more than making the numbers up?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:19): Let me tell you what creating jobs involves. It involves a plan in the first instance. It involves those on this side of the chamber—

Senator Wong: Mr President, I rise on a point of order: direct relevance. This minister is inclined to hyperbole. She was asked a very serious question about misleading the Senate. The government's own modelling is 5,434 jobs in 2035. Why don't you correct the record?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, the question was more detailed than just that. That was a part of the question and you commenced debating the question. Minister, you are in order and you have the call.

Senator CASH: As I was saying, what does it take to create jobs? It takes a plan. It takes—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Senator Wong, a point of order?

Senator Wong: Direct relevance. The question is about her misleading the Senate. She should go to that question.

The PRESIDENT: That is not the only part of the question, Senator Wong. The question contained more elements than that. The minister has 45 seconds in which to answer. Minister?

Senator CASH: As I was saying, it takes a plan, and we on this side have a plan for Australians. We understand job creation. We understand that when you are in government you are given opportunities. You are given opportunities to create jobs, going forward for the future. That is why Minister Robb—

Senator Wong interjecting

Senator Brandis interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Point of order, Senator Brandis?

Senator Brandis: Point of order, Mr President. Senator Wong just accused Senator Cash of lying to the Senate. That should be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT: I did not have the advantage of hearing what may have been said. Senator Wong, if you believe anything inappropriate was said, I would ask you to withdraw.

Senator Wong: I withdraw 'lying' and I say 'mislead', and she should respond to that.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Wong. Minister, you have the call.

Senator CASH: Unlike those on that side of the chamber, I do not make excuses for job creation because that is what this government does, and we will continue to do it because we know what is in the best interests of Australians. Australians need jobs, and we will create them.