Press Conference, West Perth: November unemployment statistics

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia


MINISTER CASH:   Well, good morning everybody. Today we’ve seen the unemployment figures released for November 2016, and the Government is pleased that with the release of this data, going against market expectations, we have seen the economy create 39,300 full-time jobs. This builds on the positive figures from the previous month, and in the last two months we have now seen the economy create approximately 85,000 full-time jobs. We are also pleased that we have seen an increase of 0.2 percentage points in the participation rate. Australians are out there, they are encouraged by the economy and they’re putting their hands up and they’re saying ‘we are prepared to look for jobs’.

Since the Coalition came to office in 2013, the economy has created approximately half a million jobs. That is a very, very good thing. But as I have always said, the Government understands it is not the Government that creates jobs, employers create jobs. And as a government, we acknowledge that we must put in place the framework that encourages employers to go out, grow their business and employ more Australians.

In terms of unemployment figures, with the release of the November data, we now have it confirmed there is a record number of Australians in employment. As the Minister for Women, I am also pleased that we have a record number of females in employment. So again, with the release of today's unemployment figures, whilst we have seen a slight increase from 5.6 to 5.7 per cent, this is very much due to the fact that we have seen an increase in the participation rate. The encouraged workers, Australians, are out there putting their hands up and saying ‘I am ready, willing, able to work’. But the Government is also pleased that, over the last two months, we have seen the economy create approximately 85,000 full-time jobs.

Any questions?

QUESTION:  It was unexpected, though. The rise was unexpected.

MINISTER CASH:   Geoff, albeit it was unexpected and against market expectations, it is a very positive figure that we have seen and, again, to see that over the last two months the economy has created 85,000 full-time jobs is a very, very positive sign.

QUESTION:  So is there any downside to the unemployment rate going up?

MINISTER CASH:   The unemployment rate, we have seen a slight increase from 5.6 to 5.7 per cent. I mean, as we know with these figures, they are volatile every month, but when you look behind the slight increase – 5.6 to 5.7 – and you look at the participation rate, that has actually increased. That is a very positive sign, because what you have is Australians who put their hands up and they say ‘I am ready, willing and able to work, I am looking for a job’ and that is a very positive sign - the encouraged worker sign.

QUESTION:  I know, so you’ve given us all the upsides. Is there any downside?

MINISTER CASH:   Well certainly from the Western Australian perspective. As a Western Australian Senator, you don't like to see the unemployment rate in Western Australia go up. But in terms of what Western Australians should therefore be looking for in a government, it is very much a government, the Barnett Government, which understands, very much like the Turnbull Government, governments don't create jobs, employers do. What governments do is put in place frameworks or policies that encourage growth. And when you look at the policies the Barnett Government has put in place – so for example, the Perth Stadium, Elizabeth Quay, Roe Highway – thousands upon thousands of jobs have been created as a result of those policies. And Geoff, the direct comparison with the McGowan Labor Opposition is this: They said no. They said no to all of those policies and those thousands and thousands of jobs that have been created.

QUESTION:  So what about South Australia which now is the worst? It was Western Australia; that went up to 6.9. South Australia’s position deteriorated faster than Western Australia; they are on seven per cent.

MINISTER CASH:   And again, you need to look at the policies state governments put in place to create jobs. Very much in Western Australia, as I have stated, you have a Liberal Government that is very much focused on major infrastructure projects because, like the Turnbull Federal Government, we know that when you invest in infrastructure you create jobs. Mark McGowan in Western Australia said no. He has consistently said no to major infrastructure projects that create jobs. So when Western Australians have to make their decision in March, I would be going for growth. I would be voting for the Barnett Liberal Government that understands job creation policies.

In terms of South Australia -  again, very disappointing. You have a fundamentally different government there, though – a Labor Government. You only need to look at what's occurred recently in relation to the lights out in South Australia. South Australia’s electricity prices are approximately 170 per cent above what others pay across Australia. The South Australian Government doesn't quite get when you are paying such a high figure for your electricity prices that is actually a job-destroying policy.

QUESTION:  So nationally we should be thanking the Turnbull Government for a rise in unemployment?

MINISTER CASH:   No, not at all, Geoff. You have verballed me. What we should be looking at is the fact that we have an unemployment rate, 5.6 to 5.7 per cent, which is obviously below the predictions in terms of what we had thought they would be. We have seen an unemployment rate, since the Turnbull Government came into office, progressively drop. We have seen the economy in the last two months, against market expectations, create 85,000 full-time jobs. We have seen the participation rate tick up 0.2 percentage points. They are very, very encouraging signs. We have seen in excess of half a million jobs created since the Coalition Government came to office.

But you know, I have stood here month after month and I have always said this is not a government that takes anything for granted. This is a government that understands you need to continually invest in growing in your economy, and that is why we went to the election with, in particular, our 10-year enterprise tax plan. We understand you need to incentivise business to grow, and that’s the policy framework the Turnbull Government is implementing.

QUESTION:  Mark McGowan said that the figures are catastrophic and the Barnett Government didn’t diversify enough during the boom. What do you say to that?

MINISTER CASH:   Well, what I say to that is this: Mark McGowan can talk the talk, but he cannot walk the walk. If Mark McGowan really believes that, why has he said continuously no to job-creating major infrastructure policies? If Mark McGowan had his way, there would be no jobs created by the Roe Highway project; there would have been no jobs created by the Elizabeth Quay project; there would have been no jobs created by the Perth Stadium project.

So Mark McGowan can stand up and say what he likes, but by his actions he is saying no to major infrastructure projects, which let's face it, have been embraced by Western Australians. Every time you drive down the Polly Farmer Freeway and you have a look at that fantastic Perth Stadium, what that says to Western Australians is you’ve got the Barnett Government that believes in job-creating policies. Thousands and thousands of jobs.

QUESTION:  The employment rate has been listless for a while now, and the Government has promised jobs and growth. So when is there going to be a significant improvement on that?

MINISTER CASH:   Sorry, I missed the first part of the question.

QUESTION:  The employment rate has sort of stayed listless for a while now.

MINISTER CASH:   Well actually, no, you’ve actually seen a decrease in the unemployment rate since the Turnbull Government came to office. And that is a very, very good thing, and as I’ve said, in terms of job-creating policies, over the last two months, we have seen the economy create 85,000 full-time jobs. Against market expectations. We’ve also seen the participation rate last month increase by 0.2 percentage points. That is a very good sign. Australians are out there putting up their hands and saying: we are ready, willing and able to undertake employment.

But again, as I’ve always said, this is not a government that rests on its laurels. We have a fundamentally different approach to the Labor Party. We understand governments don't create jobs. Employers do. Governments put in place the policy framework in which employers can either prosper and grow, which they do under us, or they can die. Very much we are focused on job-creating policies.

QUESTION:  Why should Mark McGowan be blamed for an unemployment rate that the WA Chamber of Commerce, which aren't exactly anti-Barnett or Turnbull governments, described as woeful?

MINISTER CASH:   Again, it is always disappointing when your unemployment rate goes up. But if you actually look at Western Australia, I think Western Australians more than anyone in Australia understand the effect of a transitioning economy. We have gone from a massive investment during the mining boom to obviously a transition from that mining boom through to what we are now seeing, an increase in other areas of the economy and in particular in health services, hospitality and tourism.

But again, it is all about looking at the policies governments put in place to create long-term jobs. And when you look at what the Barnett Government has done, it has actively invested in long-term job-creating policies, as I’ve already said. Three, for example, which created I understand 17,500 jobs for Western Australians. What we’ve seen – the Roe Highway, the Perth Stadium, Elizabeth Quay – they are policies that Mark McGowan said no to.

The other interesting fact in terms of Western Australia, which is very much good news for the state, is the participation rate increased by 0.6 percentage points. That is a huge increase over the last month. So what that says is you do have the encouraged worker effect in Western Australia. The participation rate in Western Australia is the highest of any other state. So whilst you have an increase in the unemployment rate, what you also see are very, very positive signs from the Western Australian community. They are putting up their hands and they are saying ‘we are encouraged, we are out there, and we are looking for work’.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Last question, thanks.

QUESTION:  You talk about encouraged workers. I mean, nationally, you say they’re encouraged workers because the participation rate’s gone up. Could they not be seen as just desperate workers?

MINISTER CASH:   No, absolutely not.

QUESTION:  [Talks over] Just people who are desperate for a job.

MINISTER CASH:   We have record employment in Australia. Almost 12 million people. We have record total male employment in Australia. We have record total female employment in Australia. We also have the participation rate ticking up by 0.2 percentage points. We also have the economy in the last two months creating approximately 85,000 full-time jobs. We also have in excess of half a million jobs being created since the Coalition Government came to office.

So you know, I'm an optimist in life; I always have been. They are positive signs. The Government is pleased that the economy continues to create jobs. It is creating, over the last two months in particular, full-time jobs and we are seeing Australians, and Western Australians in particular, put their hands up and say ‘I'm ready to participate because I am encouraged by what the economy is doing’.

QUESTION:  What do you think [indistinct] are the specific factors that contributed to South Australia and WA having those weaker results?

MINISTER CASH:   Oh, well again, look, much of it- in SA, I would say you do need to look at the State Government's policies in relation to electricity, and very much translating, obviously, over to the Shorten Opposition's policies. When you tax electricity like they do, that is a tax on business and it is a business killer.

In Western Australia, very much, it is an effect of what we know is the transitioning economy. But as I said, when you look behind the Western Australian figures and in particular at that huge jump in the participation rate – 0.6 of a percentage – that is a huge increase and should be seen as a very positive sign. Thank you all very much.



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