SUBJECTS: PaTH Program; Same Sex Marriage; GST
STEVE IRONS MP – MEMBER FOR SWAN:
Good morning everyone. It is great to have the Prime Minister of Australia back in Swan again and also with my good friend Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash. And also Bradley Woods from AHA and Stephen Morahan and the team here from the Aloft Hotel. It is great to be at the Aloft Hotel. It has been open two months and it is hitting its straps and I hear it is going very well.
So, welcome all along today and to you Prime Minister, back in Swan again, and it is great to see this view of the city and the river which my electorate is named after but please feel free to say a few words.
Thank you Steve, thank you and it is great to be hear with you and Cheryle, and again Bradley Woods from the AHA, thank you for your initiative which we’re going to describe in a moment. And Steve Morahan and all of the team here at the Aloft Hotel - thank you for welcoming us.
Our commitment is to drive economic growth.
We know that what Australians need is to be assured that their government is focusing on the issues that matter most to them and above all, that is ensuring that they have a good job, can get a job, their kids can get jobs, they can get better jobs, their businesses will thrive.
So everything we are doing is encouraging investment and employment. We are backing small business with tax cuts. We are backing small business and medium-sized businesses with tax cuts and infrastructure. Everything we are doing is backing employment and investment.
The PaTH program that Michaelia Cash has pioneered here and is delivering is one that is bringing young people who are on welfare into employment. It gets them an internship and then they get used to being at work, they get into the habit of work, they get to understand what the workplace is about and that enables them to transition on to full-time employment. It is a critically important initiative. And what it is doing, it is innovative, but what it does is it breaks that welfare cycle and we have already seen real success.
The AHA has made a commitment to take on an additional 10,000 entrants, interns, from the PaTH program over the next four years.
We have got funding for up to 120,000. We have seen real support. You would have seen just a little while ago from the retail traders have made a similar commitment. This is a great initiative.
Bradley, I want to thank you and all your members for the support that you are showing.
This is going to change lives.
Steve Morahan there, the chief executive was talking about how he got started in the hospitality industry and you were saying, Steve, that you started off as a young trainee and here you are now running a big magnificent new hotel. That shows the great opportunities that are available in this industry.
This is a great initiative and it is all part of a set of policies that are focused on investment and employment.
Now, on the other side of the Parliament, you have the Labor Party and Bill Shorten's war on jobs, war on investment, war on small business.
Everything he is standing for is designed to crush business, discourage investment, discourage employment.
He does not have one policy which would encourage a business to invest or to employ.
And when he was pressed on this the other day on the radio, he thought for a minute and he said: ‘We're in favour of public transport’.
Well, we are all in favour of investing in public transport - that's terrific - but you have to do a lot more than that to create jobs, to create investment.
We have seen strong growth in jobs. It is vitally important, particularly here in Western Australia as it transitions from the decline in the mining and investment boom - mining and resources are stronger than ever but, of course, the construction phase was always going to come to an end – so getting new investment, new projects like this, new investment, new jobs, are vitally important in this state and, of course, right around Australia.
Michaela, congratulations on this great initiative which you’re going to describe to us in more detail.
Bradley, thank you so much for the leadership of the AHA.
And Steve, again, thank you for welcoming us to your brand new hotel and your very enthusiastic young team that you are leading.
SENATOR THE HON. MICHAELIA CASH – MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT:
Thank you Prime Minister.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is always fantastic to be in the electorate of Swan with my very good friend Steve Irons, of course, with the Prime Minister and a big thank you to Bradley Woods of the Australian Hotels Association and obviously to the fantastic Aloft Hotel for hosting us here today.
I am delighted to confirm the announcement by the Prime Minister that the Australian Hotels Association over the next four years have committed to increasing their commitment to the PaTH internship program to delivering 10,000 internships.
That is just absolutely sensational news and certainly builds on the work that the PaTH program is already doing.
You will be aware that this government fundamentally believes that the best form of welfare is a job. But we don't just say that. What we do is put in place practical policies to ensure that, in particular, our youth who are on welfare have that opportunity to undertake an internship and translate that into a job.
Over the next three years, the hospitality industry is expected to grow by at least 100,000 positions. That's good news for all Australians but, in particular, for the 10,000 young people who will get an opportunity to showcase their skills and then translate that to work in this area.
As you know, this is a significant investment by the Turnbull Government. It was announced at last year's budget. A total package of $850 million over four years.
The signature part of that package is our youth PaTH program. A three-step program and it's all about getting our youth ready, giving them a go and getting them a job.
I'm delighted to say that, in the short time that the program has been running - it commenced on the 1st of April - we have now had approximately 6,500 of our young people who are on welfare, they are in the middle of their employability skills training. We have had over 1,500 commence internships and again, in the short time that the program has been under way, we have now seen 200 young people get off welfare and into a job.
We certainly look forward to seeing the numbers grow from here.
Again, fantastic to be with you, Prime Minister, and Steve but, in particular, to Bradley Woods and the Australian Hotels Association, it is fantastic to work with you to commit to up to 10,000 internships for our young people and jobs for them.
BRADLEY WOODS – CEO, AUSTRALIAN HOTELS ASSOCIATION WA:
Thank you very much Prime Minister and Minister Cash and Steve Irons.
The AHA nationally is committed to the PaTH program.
Last year we announced around 5,000 positions that we would aim for and that was our target. Within the short time the program has been operating, we have already identified that there is a huge amount of interest - the uptake in the employability skills training, the internships - and we have been able to revise our figures at a national level to commit to the target of 10,000 internships and positions through the PaTH program.
This means people taking up opportunities in hotels, in pubs, in restaurants, bars, all types of hospitality businesses across the country. And they are real jobs.
The nature of our industry is service. The more people that we can employ, the better the service.
The fact that this program provides at the third part of the program the subsidy for us to engage more staff means better service and it means better delivery of service to consumers and to the customers but also more jobs for young people coming off unemployment benefits and coming off welfare.
We see this as a true initiative to convert people's hopes and aspirations into real jobs and careers in hospitality, hotels and tourism.
As the Prime Minister mentioned, the general manager here at the Aloft started out as an intern in his original traineeship, moved through the years and there is many examples of people in our industry who have come through in very basic positions and have moved through to senior management positions and sometimes international careers because of the opportunities that were first established.
The AHA is very pleased to support this program. We are doing it a number of ways by encouraging our members and other businesses in the hospitality sector to support the PaTH program, establishing the links between the employability skills trainees, the job network and everyone else involved in the program to create those links so that there is opportunities here. But more importantly, educating and working with employers about how they can access the support, access the funding support, to create those new jobs for these young people.
And certainly over the next four years, we are looking forward to seeing many, many thousands of young people in new jobs that have been created as a result of the Turnbull Government initiative.
SENATOR THE HON. MICHAELIA CASH – MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT:
Do we some questions on the PaTH program and employment issues?
Prime Minister, your MPs are basically at war over the issue of same-sex marriage. Do you accept that this is being seen as a test of your authority over the party room and what do you intend to do about it?
Thank you for your question.
Our government's policy position on this issue is very, very clear and it has not changed.
We went to the last election promising that the Australian people would have their direct say on this issue.
The only reason that plebiscite or vote has not been held, the only reason every Australian has not been given the opportunity to vote on this is because of Bill Shorten's opposition.
The plebiscite would have been held long ago by now had it not been for Labor's totally political opposition.
They have no interest in marriage equality or same-sex marriage at all. Their only interest is in the politics.
We made a commitment to give every Australian a say on this issue and that is our policy. It has not changed.
There are reports that your leadership could be terminal and the right faction is lining up a ticket with Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt - will there be a spill?
I know you are interested in this. Can I tell you - I've been in WA now for a couple of days, I have met with hundreds of people from the Mindarie pub to community meetings to schools to the train down to Mandurah - only one person has raised this issue with me.
So this is an issue of enormous interest to journalists.
I think Western Australians and Australians generally are focused on jobs, on employment, on economic growth and investment. They are focused on the issues my government is focused on, which is ensuring that we deliver the strong economic growth and the opportunities for young people to get ahead and get a job and, for example, with this PaTH program.
I think there are a lot of parents watching us today who will be really wondering why it is that not one of the journalists here has got any interest in a program that is going to give up to 120,000 young people on welfare an internship and a job. They'll be really wondering, really wondering what the priorities are of our friends in the media here versus the government.
We are focused on delivering economic growth and jobs.
Liberal MPs braced for preselection if they cross the floor to allow a free vote on same-sex marriage. Would you like to endorse them?
I have dealt with this issue. Our policy is very clear. The traditions of the Liberal Party are very well understood.
I've got nothing to add on either of those points.
If there is a debate on changing your party’s position on same-sex marriage, would you follow Tony Abbott's lead in letting the National’s in on the debate?
Again, again, your interest in this matter, I understand it but it is not our priority to be focused on and to be discussing internal Liberal Party or Coalition matters here.
Our policy is very, very clear. We have established processes through our party room which everyone is very familiar with. Our policy is very clear.
We have committed that every Australian will have a vote and the question you should be asking, if you care to take the time, is of Bill Shorten and say to him why has he gone back on his commitment that every Australian should have a vote?
He gave a commitment to the Australian Christian Lobby only a few years ago, 2013 as I recall, in which he said he favoured every Australian having a say on this issue.
Well, we took that position to the election, we gave that commitment and that remains our policy.
Now, if there are no other questions on any other issues?
Prime Minister – can I just ask - have you got across the issue with the population change here in West Australia, the Census figures and do you hear the concerns of the Premier about the $2 billion black hole potentially in the state budget?
I'm aware of the issue. I have seen some correspondence. I will be looking forward to discussing it with the Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison later today. We have a Cabinet meeting here in Perth, of course.
I imagine I will be discussing it, I'm sure I will be discussing it with the Premier but we will have more to say about that following that.
Can you let us know when you are meeting with the Premier? His office is still saying there is no meeting scheduled so there seems to be confusion.
I understand a meeting has been scheduled, but look, can I say to you I have a perfectly good, cordial relationship with Mark McGowan. We talk on the telephone - quite contemporary means of communication are employed - and look forward to catching up with him while I'm here.
Obviously, I've met him a number of times since he won the election. There are no problems. Always happy to have a chat with him and I look forward, as you know, I look forward to working constructively with him.
I mean, the City Deal that we have offered for Perth, for example, is a good example of the practical, constructive way we want to work with state governments and local governments regardless of their political complexion.
My job as Prime Minister of Australia is to deliver stronger economic growth, more job opportunities, more opportunities for young Australians to realise their dreams and do so in an environment which is secure.
One of the things that we should not forget is that just over the last few days we have seen the disruption of a terrorist plot to bring down an aeroplane. You can imagine the amount of time and attention that I and my ministers have been devoting to that.
So we have very serious issues to attend with.
And as I have been travelling around Western Australia, if I exclude the members of the journalistic community, the issues that people are raising with me are investment, infrastructure, national security, jobs, health, schools funding. All of those issues - that's what young people, older people, everyone, is raising with me. They are the real issues that Australians are focused on. That is what we are focused on. That's what my government is leading on - delivering at every level the security, which is the foundation of it all, and then the economic opportunity that enables Australians to get ahead, to realise their dreams, to ensure their kids get a job. Maybe an internship here at this hotel that leads on to great opportunities.
I was just going to ask, how the raising the issue of GST, there has been a lot said.
So is that being raised with you as you go about in the community?
Yes, it has been, it has been – in fact, as I was saying in the Mindarie pub on Sunday night that Western Australia's very low share, currently running at about 34 per cent of what would be its per capita share of the GST doesn't pass the pub test and it certainly didn't pass the pub test in that pub.
Look, we are on the case there. I am the first Prime Minister to recognise there is an unfairness here, first Prime Minister to acknowledge that. First Prime Minister to describe a pathway to dealing with it.
We are working through the discussions at COAG. Obviously, you’ve got to seek to bring the other jurisdictions along, the other states along. And we have got the Productivity Commission analysing the GST allocation formula to ask whether it is any longer fit for purpose.
But, again, I want to make a very important point and it is a point about Premier McGowan and Bill Shorten and the Labor Party - the greatest opponents, the strongest opponents to any change to the GST formula that would result in Western Australia getting a fairer share are in the Labor Party.
It is the Labor states, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, in particular, that have been most vocal about it and, of course, it is the Federal Labor Party led by Bill Shorten.
So what Mr McGowan needs to do – and I'm saying no more, I'm not talking to him through the megaphone media, I have said this to Mark directly - what he needs to do is use his considerable influence in the Labor Party to get support from the other states, from Labor states, to do that.
Clearly, what we need to do is come to a landing where we have a GST allocation formula that is fair and is seen as being fair across the country. In other words, that it passes the pub test not just in Western Australia but in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales and so forth.
New South Wales, by the way, is supporting a change to the GST formula – that’s led by Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
On that note, I thank you all very much.
See you soon.