Launch of the Woolworths 'Fresh Start' program
SUN 01 APRIL 2012
Thank you very much, it’s great to be here today and I’m joined by my Labor colleagues Andrew Leigh and Gai Brodtmann, Labor Members for the people who are working and shopping in this Woolworths as we meet this morning and Andrew had the opportunity of actually launching this store on Thursday.
I’m here because there’s nothing more important to us as a Labor Government than making sure that people have got the benefits that come with having a job. The simple dignity that comes with making your own way in the world and the benefits that come with having employment and having that pay packet.
As a Government we’ve worked hard to make sure that Australians do have the benefit of work and when we faced very tough economic times during the global finance crisis we wanted to protect Australian jobs.
We want to see jobs grow now as our economy keeps changing and the way we live and work changes. So this store doesn’t look like the Woolworths stores of the past, indeed there are new innovations in this store which are really at the cutting edge of retailing. But we all know that from the Woolworths that we used to go into five years ago or ten years ago or fifteen years ago, we live in a world of change, retailing is changing, our economy is changing and as a Government we have got to work with businesses and work with communities right around the country to maximise the benefits that can come with that growth and to maximise the benefits of jobs.
So that’s why I’m very pleased to be here today, it is good news that Woolworth is looking to employ 10,000 more people, to put on 10,000 new starters to get them the benefit of a job. But it’s even better news that Woolworths wants to do this in partnership with Government, so we not only find the quickest and most efficient way of filling those jobs, but we also ensure that we are embracing the full diversity of the Australian community and giving people a start and a hope.
So it’s been great today to meet people who work right here at Woolworths today for whom this retail job was their first start and their first hope. I had for example the opportunity to talk to Chloe who’s in the audience now, who had the benefit of this start and this hope through Woolworths.
And I’ve also had the benefit of meeting people for whom this was the first run on what ended up being a career. I know for many their image of retailing is that it’s something people maybe do when they’re young as their first job or it might provide them with flexible employment whilst their raising their family, but here at Woolworths today I’ve met people for whom this has become a career, who have worked here for 15, 20, 25 years, who started in that first job and who have got that all important apprenticeship through being involved with Woolworths. And I can see Skye in the audience, she’s one of those.
So this agreement today is about making sure we can get for these jobs, it’s about reaching out into the community to those who maybe find it that bit harder to get into the employment market and to get work and to make sure that because, perhaps they didn’t do so well at school or they have a disability they don’t get locked out of the benefits of employment. And it’s also about putting people on the first rung of what can be a lifetime career, an apprenticeship opportunity, a management opportunity, the opportunity to really get ahead in life.
As we are working on the work that Government needs to do, I’m here in a store where a lot of people would be wandering around making their decisions today based on their family budget, so we’re probably here with a lot of people working hard on their family budget. Just like they’re working hard balancing their family budget, we’re working hard down the road in Parliament House on balancing the Government’s budget. But as we go about that task nothing is going to be more important to us than ensuring that we continue to protect jobs and we make sure that the families shopping here and the people who work in this store get the frontline services that they need.
So this is a great partnership, I’m really pleased to be able to be here to put my name on the dotted line for this fresh start partnership and I do also want to say particularly with Jennifer Westacott here from the Business Council of Australia and Margy Osmond from the retailers organisation, that this is the start of what I hope will become far more widespread as more business enter this kinds of partnership with Government to create jobs, fill jobs, reach out into the community and ensure that the benefits of jobs extend to all.
Thank you very much.