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Transcript of interview with Helen Dalley: Sky News: 18 February 2016: jobs figures; Labor's tax plan

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SUBJECT/S: Jobs Figures; Labor’s Tax Plan.

HELEN DALLEY: Brendan O’Connor thanks so much for joining us.


DALLEY: Now unemployment has surprised a bit by edging up to 6 per cent but that is still considered by most analysts as indicative of a fairly strong jobs market.

O’CONNOR: Well I think it is concerning when you see in one month as forecast by the ABS the full time jobs falling by 40,000 only alleviated by an increase in part time employment. I think that’s another part of the story, Helen. You see increasing underemployment. There is almost 1.1million Australians looking for more work according to the ABS. This is the first time it’s hit 6 per cent under Malcolm Turnbull. It’s going in the wrong direction because the Government doesn’t have a jobs plan, it doesn’t have a tax plan, it’s just all talk.

DALLEY: Well just let me put something, Comsec’s economist Craig James said over October and November over 130,000 jobs were created, jobs only fell by a thousand in December. In short he’s saying average job growth is still around $30,000 a month over the last four months, so job growth in his estimation has certainly been good. Are you saying you reject that?

O’CONNOR: Everyone can come to their own view about these things. As Mark Twain said there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. But let me put a few statistics to you. There

are 74,500 more people unemployed today than was the case when the Abbott-Turnbull Government was elected - that’s a big concern. Unemployment amongst young people is now 12.7 per cent, which is well beyond double the national unemployment rate, which is a shocking indictment of the failure by the government to respond to young people entering the labour market. And we have too many people looking for work without genuine assistance and I think part of the problem has been is a lack of regard and engagement by this Federal Government with sectors of economy, with industry, with business - more has to be done. I mean in South Australia today we have real concerns about Arrium in Whyalla hitting the wall. There needs to be greater support. Rolling up their sleeves would be a start and to stop waffling about policies that don’t exist.

DALLEY: The Prime Minister when he was on tour in Queensland this week said 300,000 jobs were created last year. I mean are you actually rejecting that is the case and what is Labor’s plan for job creation?

O’CONNOR: I’m not rejecting whether there has been jobs growth. I’m saying to you that undeniably, axiomatically there are 74,500 more Australians unemployed today as there were at the election. That’s not something you can quibble about that’s a fact. I’m saying also that it’s not good just offering people insecure, part time work. How many of those 300,000 supposed jobs are actually permanent, full time jobs? Clearly as a result of today’s ABS figures there are significant falls in permanent full time work. It’s not good enough to have someone working 5 hours if they need 35 or 38 hours work.

DALLEY: Alright so Brendan O’Connor what is Labor’s plan for jobs? How does Labor’s plan for changes to negative gearing, how does that help create new jobs?

O’CONNOR: Well that’s a very good question and I’m glad you’ve asked. The reason why the negative gearing plan announced by Labor would assist is that there would be a redirection of investment into new dwellings which will increase construction, increase housing stock, relieve housing affordability for those people priced out of the housing market -

DALLEY: But I mean you’re not going to get hundreds and thousands of jobs from that -

O’CONNOR: Just let me finish. Just let me finish if you could. You just asked me a specific question about negative gearing. I’m giving you a specific answer but you’ve cut me off. I’m saying that the Grattan Institute has - sorry, the McKell Institute has calculated that you’d find 25,000 jobs in that industry alone as a result of that decision. Let’s be clear here. The only reason why you’re talking to me about our tax policy is because the Government doesn’t have one. You’ve seen the Treasurer yesterday say that he won’t sell unicorns to the public. Well, that’s because the public know that unicorns - just like the Government’s tax policy - aren’t real. There isn’t a tax policy. There isn’t a jobs plan. This Government is adrift. And that’s why we’re seeing the unemployment rate rise.

DALLEY: But do you think in fact we will get the Government’s tax plan fairly soon, they’re just saying that they want to do it properly?

O’CONNOR: Well, you’d hope so. But it seems now five months since the knifing of Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister has been all talk. He’s all tip, no iceberg. He hasn’t made a decision. Not one decision. Today, the only jobs he was shuffling around at Government House was his Ministers’. He’s had more reshuffles for his own frontbench than really any concern or regard for industries that are dealing with some very difficult issues. I mean, we’ve got the steel industry in Australia confronted with the falling commodity prices in great danger of being adversely hit, and the Government is not working in the case of Whyalla and Arrium with the South Australian Government in the way it should be. We’ve had a Government that’s presided over the killing off of the car industry. There’s no plan, no confidence in the business community, that the Government is working in the right direction whether it be on tax policy or jobs policy.


LLEY: Alright Brendan O’Connor, we do thank you for joining us tonight.

O’CONNOR: Sure thanks Helen.