Press Conference Lidcombe, NSW

18 Nov 2021
Prime Minister

Mr Marcus Anderson, LION: I just wanted to welcome everyone to The Tooheys Brewery in western Sydney. Largest brewery in New South Wales. I'd certainly like to welcome Dr Fiona Martin and of course, the Prime Minister to the brewery. We've had an amazing tour, really meeting lots of amazing people along the way and including, you know, our young new young talent that is coming through. Look, we've, we've had a, you know, a really challenging time during the pandemic, but fortunately, we've been able to continue producing and continue to supply our beer out of this great facility. Really exciting year ahead, obviously post-pandemic. And you know, one of the key things is really starting to continue to build our young talent through apprenticeships and the like and continuing to sponsor a grad programme in New South Wales for the University of New South Wales and our new grad programme with our graduates starting in in February 2022. So exciting times ahead and I'll hand over to Fiona. 

Dr Fiona Martin MP, Federal Member for Reid: Thank you. Thank you so much for welcoming us here this morning at Tooheys Brewery. It's always exciting to be here. Reid is open for business and it's so exciting to see so many people moving about again and working and, you know, businesses open, particularly our pubs. I think the breweries have seen us go from kegs to cans and now back to kegs again, which is great. Wonderful to see our pubs open too in Reid. Last night, I went to the Inner West Business Awards and saw how during COVID, a lot of our local businesses adapted and have bounced back and things are looking very good for Reid. Consumer spending is up. And I think we're going to have a ripper of a Christmas, a lot more jobs created, and it's places like this, Tooheys Brewery, where jobs are being created. A lot of people here at Tooheys actually live and work in Reid, which is fantastic, and we're honoured this morning to have our Prime Minister here, Scott Morrison, to talk more about jobs and manufacturing. Thank you very much, Prime Minister. 

Prime Minister: Thank you. Well, thank you, Dr Martin. Thank you, Fiona. You've done a wonderful job here, Liberal Member for Reid, it's been a tough time coming through this pandemic and your experience in mental health as a practitioner there has been extraordinarily helpful here to the local community. So many parts of our country have really had to push through and have needed that mental health support. Of course, we've invested heavily as a government working together with the states and territories to ensure that Australians had that mental health support throughout this pandemic and Fiona, I want to thank you for the the great advice and support that you've given to us as a government to make sure we've been getting those decisions right to support through people through their mental health. 

But you know what, there have been many heroes during this pandemic. Of course, we know of the great heroes in our health professionals and our health workers who've been out there, whether in mental health or out there taking taking the swabs or supporting us in aged care facilities or in emergency wards right across the country. But you know, there have been some economic heroes during this pandemic. We know about the mining industry and how that kept the dollars rolling in to Australia during the pandemic. But Australia's manufacturing industry have been real heroes. They've been keeping the show on the road. They've been keeping the production up to the demand and they've been keeping people in jobs and Tooheys are a great example of that. You know, there are a million people who are now employed in manufacturing. Before we came to government, one in eight jobs in manufacturing were lost under Labor, under our government's policies and through a pandemic, we've turned that around, and we've got more than a million people working in manufacturing. Now, food and beverage manufacturing is the biggest sector of that. It's almost a quarter of those jobs are in food and beverage manufacturing. And so our manufacturers during the pandemic getting their COVIDsafe practises right, making sure they keep the machines turning over and they're ensuring the bottling and the filling and the finishing is done and the products are getting out to market. This has been a heroic effort, and so to all our workers out there in manufacturing right across the country, thank you for the amazing job that you've done to ensure that our Australian economy has been coming through this pandemic stronger than almost any other advanced developed economy in the world. 

But the challenges we all now know is to secure that economic recovery. There are plenty of challenges ahead. There are all sorts of headwinds we're going to face, and we cannot take this economic recovery for granted. It's wonderful to see our cities opening up again. It's wonderful to see those borders coming down before Christmas. This is all tremendous. But that alone is not going to ensure that we really secure this economic recovery. Strong economic management is what will deliver that. And without that, this recovery would be placed at risk. In particular, it's great to see what's happening here with skills and training. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs which employers around the country are now looking to fill as the recovery takes hold. I want to encourage Australians who have yet to get back into that workforce. Those jobs are there. The employers are looking for you. So please get out there and sign up and let's get back into this economy and making sure it's moving forward strongly for young people, but particularly for women, it's great to see here. I met Lizzie before from Zimbabwe. Now Lizzie has come here as a migrant, as so many workers and people of different backgrounds right here in the electorate of Reid have. And to see Lizzie, Giselle who has come from Venezuela and of course, Claire from Ireland. Of course, there's going to be an Irish girl here in a brewery with their brewing skills, and these skills are being brought from all around the world. But it's great to see female apprentices, female engineers here, part of the biggest brewery operation here in New South Wales and the second biggest in the country. And it's great to see young women taking on those roles coming out of university, training other women coming up through plants just like this. So it's exciting to see, we've got some 240,000, 240,000 young Australians, largely, who have come in under our boosting apprenticeship scheme. And that is a tremendous result. And the largest number of those are right here in New South Wales. About 48,000 of them. So we're getting people into jobs, we're getting the skills and training that they need and women are leading the charge.

Journalist: PM, we have 22,000 fewer apprenticeships than eight years ago, yes great initiative but clearly more needs to be done, what will you do to address that?

Prime Minister: Well, as you just said, the boosting apprenticeship scheme has got 240,000 largely young Australians in these apprenticeships. Now under Labor, what happened is we had all the dodgy loans that were going for dodgy courses. People were given laptops to turn up to courses that never met. They counted all of those as part of their apprenticeship scheme. It's nonsense. What happened under Labor is they cut, they cut the incentive programme for employers to take on apprentices, and we lost 100,000 apprentices under Labor. 100,000 because they took the incentives away from employers to put them in. We put those incentives back and we've kept those incentives going, and that's why there are more than 45,000 apprentices now in our boosting apprenticeship scheme and there's over 240,000 nationally. So we're putting those people back into work and those apprentices, particularly in those technical trades, the technical trades and the engineering skills that are needed to drive, especially our manufacturing sectors forward. We make things in Australia, we make a lot of things here in Australia, and we've got more people employed in manufacturing now. We've turned around those one in eight jobs which were lost under Labor, and we've got Australians making things again and getting trained to make things again.

Journalist: Protesters in Melbourne have this week have carried signs advocating for violence against politicians. One is accused of encouraging protesters to take guns to parliament to shoot Daniel Andrews. What is your response to this [inaudible]?

Prime Minister: Well, of course, those threats and intimidation has no place in Australia. We're a civil, peaceful society. Where we have disagreements, we don't handle them with violence and there can be no tolerance for that. And there should be no tolerance for that. No matter how frustrated people might be, that is never the answer. And there needs to be the respect shown in those, those debates that we have. There has to be an appropriate balance and civility. Of course, there are many people who are feeling frustrated. I mean, over the last couple of years, governments have been telling Australians what to do. Now, there's been a need for that as we've gone through the pandemic. But the time is now to start rolling all of that back. Australians have kept their part of the deal. More than 80 per cent of Australians are now double dose vaccinated. We now have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. We've had one of the strongest economies to come through the pandemic, and we have one of the lowest fatality rates from COVID in the world. Australians have done an amazing job when it comes to leading us through this pandemic, but now it's time for governments to step back. And for Australians to take their lives back. And for Australians to be able to move forward with the freedoms that should be theirs. That's certainly what we're doing as a federal government. That's where we see it going. Our position on mandatory vaccines, for example, is in very specific circumstances. We're not in favour of mandatory vaccines imposed by the government. Businesses can make their own choices under the law, but we're not about telling them what to do or telling Australians what to do. Vaccines only are mandatory in cases where you've got health workers that are working with vulnerable people. That's what our medical advice has always been. And as we get above 80 per cent in particular, which the scientific advice shows us and the research shows us, that means Australians can have their lives back. They should be able to go and get a cup of coffee in Brisbane when you're over 80 per cent, regardless of whether you've had the vaccines or not.

Journalist: How concerned are you to see state Liberal MPs joining in on these protests and associating themselves with these kinds of messages?

Prime Minister: Well, I don't, I don't support any of that.

Journalist: PM, thousands of jobs shortages as you mentioned, particularly in hospitality, a lot of businesses are really struggling with vacancies that would have once been filled by overseas workers, what are you going to do to address that, does more need to be done to encourage overseas workers into those hospitality jobs?

Prime Minister: Of course it does. The Premier and I discussed this last week, and we're of the same view on this here in New South Wales and particularly with the decisions taken here in New South Wales. And I would say in the ACT, in Victoria, where there isn't the requirement for quarantine for double vaccinated people, that provides that opportunity. And I envisage that we'll be in that situation very, very soon. When we get into next month, we will be able to be seeing skilled migrants coming up in greater numbers here, particularly into New South Wales, which is what I indicated. So we're getting on with that, but we have got to basically open the country up again. We've got to do it safely to stay safely open. I think Australians don't want to see governments taking decisions that aren't cautious, but they've got to be the right decisions too. And we've got to understand that it is time to move forward, not for governments to hold people back. And that's certainly what the federal government is doing. That's what we're doing. Australians have kept their part of the deal. They've gone and got vaccinated. They've pushed through this pandemic. It's time for Australians to be able to have those freedoms back because of what they have achieved. They've earned it back. It was never something that certainly our government rushed towards. It's not something that comes naturally to us. But it was necessary for a time. And that time, as we've now hit 80 per cent double dose vaccinations, means Australians should reclaim those freedoms.

Journalist: Do you think those businesses will have some reprieve when we reopen the country? Do you expect that those job vacancies will be filled by overseas workers and that will be enough?

Prime Minister: Well, that will play a role, but the key thing is also to keep training people coming out of school. I mean this time last year one of the reasons we put JobTrainer in place was because we were concerned about students coming out of school at the end of 2020 into an economy which was still impacted by the pandemic. And so that's why we put JobTrainer in place. That's why we increased the number of university places to ensure that Australian school leavers would be able to go into high quality training and education opportunities. Now they're one year down in that process. And so going into next year, we've been spending the money on training to get people skilled up, as I said more than 240,000 Australians in that boosting apprenticeships programme, a really important programme, more than 45,000 of them here in New South Wales. That helps the challenge that employers will have, but the challenge we now have is the jobs are there and we're looking to get people into those jobs to support those businesses because you cannot take the economic recovery for granted. And my government will secure that economic recovery.

Journalist: On that note, your office has suggested up to 280,000 jobs created before Christmas, where does that figure come from and where will those jobs be created?

Prime Minister: Well, it's based on public data, but the point is there are thousands and thousands of jobs that are there and they, we need to fill them. Employers need them filled and we want to see Australians get into those jobs. And over the course of the next month or so, we'll be seeing our borders open up more safely and that will ensure there'll be more people like Claire who came here at the start of the pandemic. She turned up in January 2020. Thank goodness she did. She was here on a backpacker visa, and I'm sure she'll be able to transfer onto a skilled visa because of the wonderful job she's done here and make a life here in Australia. And that's what we want to see. Australia is a migration country. We always have been, and Reid is one of the most multicultural electorates in the country and that is a huge part of our economy into the future.

Journalist: Peter Dutton has said that it's inconceivable that Australia would not join the US if it entered into a conflict with China over Taiwan. Do you agree with this assessment and if not why not?

Prime Minister: Well, Australia has always been working with our partners and allies to shore up a free and open Indo-Pacific. We work very closely with all our partners and our allies in the Indo-Pacific to ensure that it is free and open, and that's where all of our efforts are focused. That's what we want to see happen, and that's why we want to ensure there's an appropriate balance in the region to ensure that we don't move down the path that those types of events would realise.

Journalist: PM, even with these job shortages, we are seeing lines outside Centrelink, what is your message to people on welfare that I imagine this is what is driving the unemployment rate. What is your message [inaudible]?

Prime Minister: Well, the reason we've seen in the most recent numbers, what we've seen is because there was lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne. Those lockdowns are over. And so those lines will now be outside places like this one or many other employers as people line up for those jobs because those jobs are there. Now those lines will be virtual because they'll be on, on the various job sites and the work that is done through the job agencies all around through job active and others. So that's where the jobs are. Those jobs are there. The best form of welfare is a job. The best way to grow your economy is to get people off welfare and into work. Those social security benefits are there as a safety net. They are not to hold people back. They will give them that support when they need it. But the jobs are there now and we want to encourage people to go out and take those jobs because employers are asking for you to come and work. And it's for Australians to go back to work now and to fill those jobs and secure this economic recovery.

Journalist: The US President and the Chinese President met this week and yet Australian ministers still can’t get their counterpart on the line. Is there a concern for Australia or is your government resigned to the fact that we have no high level of communication with our largest trading partner?

Prime Minister: Well, the trade with our largest trading partner continues, and it continues at a very strong levels. And the Australian side has always been very pleased to be able to open that dialogue and we welcome that dialogue whenever the Chinese President and other ministers within the Chinese system are happy to meet with Australia. Australia is always very open to that dialogue and engaging that dialogue at whichever opportunity they seek. Our positions on issues are very clear. We're very clear about what our interests are, our security interests, our economic interests. We will always stand up for Australia's interests. There'll never be any compromise on that. But we equally are happy to work with everyone in our region to ensure we have a free and open Indo-Pacific, and that is the focus of our policy.

Journalist: Lastly William Tyrrell, is there anything you'd like to say on that investigation it’s making huge inroads?

Prime Minister: Well, it is, but this is a very sensitive issue, and given the nature of these matters, I wouldn't want to be making any contributions here that could any way in any way put at risk the extraordinary work that is being done by law enforcement officers around the country. I want to thank them for their persistence and their dedication. My late father was a policeman, so I have a bit of an inkling about the level of patience and determination that is required from law enforcement to never give up. And I want to say thank you to them for never giving up on this case. And, and for all of his family who for whom it is just unimaginable the torment that they have been going through that I hope these latest developments provide them with, with some, some comfort. But my real message to them is those who are looking, those who are looking, for those who've committed the crimes, will never stop. And that's, that's a great I think that's a great statement of the dedication of our police forces around the country. Thank you.