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Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Page: 6988

Employment


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory) (14:10): My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Employment, Senator Abetz. Will the minister advise the Senate of the steps the government has taken and is taking to generate jobs and to deliver improved living standards for Australian families?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:10): I can indicate to Senator Seselja and to the Senate that the first thing this government had to do on taking office was to begin to clean up the mess left by Labor and the Greens. There was the waste, there were the unfunded promises, there was the billions in debt and deficit, there were our porous borders, there was the Labor NBN debacle, there was the world's biggest carbon tax and there was a mining tax that was supposed to pay for everything but did not raise a single cent. And the way they turned back the workplace relations clock to the 1970s stalled job creation. That was just part of the mess that we had to clean up.

Since taking office, we have actually ended the waste—$50,000 million worth of waste has been cut from the budget, despite the Labor Party voting against their own savings measures. We are fixing the budget, and we are fixing Labor's NBN debacle. We have restored integrity to Australia's borders—restoring the integrity which has allowed us to take in 12,000 Syrians—clearly, people in genuine need. We have scrapped the carbon tax, we have scrapped the mining tax and we are working to stamp out union corruption and to bring our workplace relations laws back to a sensible balance. And we have negotiated the best trade agreement with China of any nation in the world.

These reforms have helped create over 300,000 more jobs and have given security to millions of Australian families and their household budgets. Our policies have made our economy stronger and our nation safer. There is always more to do, but Australia is now heading in the right direction. (Time expired)


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory) (14:12): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister outline to the Senate the benefits for Australians and their families if we can grasp the opportunities that the future offers?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:12): With its educated workforce, its natural resources and its geographic proximity to the Asia-Pacific, Australia has tremendous opportunities. If we realise them, those opportunities will provide Australians with the jobs and careers they need for the future. They will also provide the high wages and the ability to pay for the high-quality government services that Australians expect.

But to create these jobs and to achieve these benefits, Australia needs reform. It needs free trade agreements. It needs to stop the waste. It needs a viable tertiary education sector that can compete with the rest of the world. There can be no standing still in today's world. Unless we reform so we can adapt, we will be left behind. That is why this government is so committed to the necessary reforms for the future of our nation. (Time expired)


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory) (14:13): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware of any threats to these opportunities for the Australian people?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:13): We have the people, we have the resources and we have the expertise to take our standard of living to entirely new levels. But those opportunities will be lost if we embrace the politics of fear and scaremongering engaged in by those opposite.

Yesterday, Mr Shorten said that Labor was prepared to be constructive. Well, I am delighted to hear that! And he can start by supporting the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which was introduced just this morning into the other place. And when he has done that I look forward to a new approach from Labor in the Senate. I look forward to getting their support to the other positive ideas the government has put forward to reform our economy, to ease the cost-of-living burden on Australian families and to help create even more jobs. This is the task this parliament needs to embrace, and I encourage the Australian Labor Party for once to get on board.