Doorstop with Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, The Hon. Trent Zimmerman MP, Member for North Sydney and Mr Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director, Australian Retailers Association Crows Nest

03 Jul 2017
Prime Minister, Minister for Employment
PaTH Program; Tax cuts for small and medium business; Liberal Party; G20; Energy Security
Business and Employment


It’s great to have the Prime Minister here in Crows Nest which is one of those vibrant centres, home for small business activity on the lower North Shore and this morning we’ve had an opportunity to meet with a first range small businesses to talk about what we’re doing to help small businesses but particularly their role in employing young Australians throughout our PaTH program and I’ve been encouraged by their enthusiasm and hopefully we can get more local businesses to participate in that program because we need to help those that are trying to get into the workforce to do. 

So I’ll hand over to the Prime Minister.


Thanks very much Trent, Michaelia and Russell. Well, this is a great day for small business. 

The PaTH program that we’re undertaking is bringing young Australians into the workforce. 120,000 over four years will get the opportunity to get some pre-work training and then get an internship which will set them on the pathway to full-time employment.

As Michaelia will describe, we’ve got a whole range of incentives along the way to encourage, to ensure this happens. Now this is a very, very significant policy development - opposed I might say, strenuously by the Labor Party - but it is another one of the things we’ve done in a year of great achievement since the election.

Now we have in Australia at the moment about 12.7 per cent of young people between 15 and 24 who are looking for work in the workforce or are unable to get a job. Now that’s far too high. If we reduce that by 20,000, that is a full percentage point. So you can see that the 120,000 over four years, if that sets tens of thousands of young people onto the pathway to employment, as it will, who would otherwise not have done that, it makes a very big material difference. Not just to their lives, to give them the chance to get ahead, but to the nation as a whole.

So this is a critically important part of our program to deliver jobs and growth. Not just a slogan but an outcome, it’s an outcome. Now of course we’re backing small business right across the board. We are now in the new financial year and now more companies, more small and medium companies, will be getting a tax cut.

So now for last year, the last financial year, it was companies and businesses up to a turnover of up to $10 million a year, they get the instant asset write off. They also got a 2.5 per cent tax cut. Now its businesses up to $25 million a year and next year $50 million a year.

Of course on the alternative, you have Bill Shorten who wants to put all those taxes up again. So Bill Shorten is now making very clear what the line is going to be between his side of politics and ours.

He’s for higher taxes, higher taxes on business - particularly small and medium business - and higher taxes on individuals. So that’s his approach: anti-business, anti-small business, anti-jobs, anti-investment.

Everything we’re doing is focused on backing those jobs, those small businesses that are providing the employment. And you know, small businesses can do anything. They can grow into big businesses, they can be prosperous, they can provide opportunities and Russell will say a little bit about that, about how so many of our great business leaders started off as young people working in retail.

The Australian Retailers Association, as Russell and Michaela will describe, are committing to bringing 10,000 young people into this program. And you know, among those 10,000 young people there will be young men and women, young boys and girls, who haven't been able to get into the workforce. They will get a start at a job and you know what? They could go on to great heights. They could go on to, like many others before them, running big businesses, owning big businesses and employing lots of other people. Realising their dreams, just like Jeff Horn did.

What an extraordinary win. What a great Australian story, congratulations. Brisbane school teacher to world champion. Against all of the pundits, against all of the bookies, but he won. It’s a great Australian Story. Australians can do anything and we do and we will.  Michaela Cash.


Thank you Prime Minister and obviously thank you so much to my very good friend and colleague Trent Zimmerman for hosting us here today.

I am just delighted to be able to formerly announce with the Prime Minister and of course Russell Zimmerman, the head of the Australian Retailers Association - that the ARA have come on board and have formally committed to up to 10,000 internships over the next four years as part of our jobs PaTH program.

As you all know, this is a Government and a Prime Minister who believe that the best form of welfare is a job and that's why at least year's budget, we made the commitment of $850 million towards our youth jobs program. It’s a three-step program and it’s all about getting our youth ready, giving them a go and getting them a job.

Certainly to date the results have been incredibly impressive. Since the 1st of January when the wage subsidy was able to be accessed we have had in excess of 6,200 wage subsidies accessed by employers. That’s absolutely fantastic. Since the 1st of April when the training element of the program commenced we have now had over 1,200 youth go through the program, but also in excess of 5,000 training programs on offer. And of course the program’s only been in place for 12 weeks but we already have 82 young people who are quite literally looking at a lifetime of welfare. Well guess what?  As a result of the Turnbull Government's PaTH program these 82 young people are now in employment.

When we say that the best form of welfare is a job we mean it and we’ll put both the resources and the programs behind it. But again, just fantastic to be here today with the Prime Minister, with Trent, and of course with Russell Zimmerman to formally announce that the Australian Retailers Association have committed to getting up to 10,000 of our youth into internships and then into jobs over the next four years and that's an absolutely fantastic achievement. Thank you so much, Russell.


Yeah well done. Russell, come and say a few words and tell us a bit more about it.


Good morning.  Firstly I would like to say thank you to the Government for the opportunity to partner with them to deliver up to 10,000 jobs in the retail industry. The retail industry is a big employer of young people. We are the second largest employer of people. We are only eclipsed by the health which has both private and public. For an opportunity to set your foot into the retail industry, it gives you a chance to work through. We don't see this as just a job, we see this as a career through retail. There have been some great people through retail that have started at the bottom and I refer to people like Bernie Brookes who headed up Myer until a couple of years ago, Roger Corbett who was the head of the Woolworths’ organisation. They both started at the shop floor.

I personally started as a 14-year-old working at a hardware store as I worked my progression through the retail industry. There are great opportunities in the retail industry and unfortunately they are not seen. Now we’re hoping by this program and being able to get people enthused about the retail industry and to get employers to take on more people that we will get young people into retail, that they will see retail as a career and work their way through.

Once again I would like to say thank you very much to both the minister and the Prime Minister.


Thanks Russell, thank you. Do you have some questions?


Prime Minister this morning on radio [inaudible] get Tony Abbott under control -


Just before, I’ll stop you. Do we have some questions on youth unemployment, on the PaTH program, on small business?


Yes, a question for the PM. How likely is this to create churn in the workforce?


Well the answer is it won't, because these are new jobs.


Absolutely. These are new jobs and very much to be part of the program, the employer has to certify that there is a job available or there is a high likelihood of a job available. This is about getting our young people off welfare and into work and the Government has worked very closely with employers in particular to ensure that there are the appropriate processes in place.

We’ve also been very, very clear - if at the end of the internship a job is not offered, there will be an investigation as to why. So very much when this Government says we are getting our youth off welfare and into work, I can assure you we are putting in place the programs that are going to do that.


The unions have raised concerns about the PaTH program [inaudible]?


Well again the unions raise a lot of concerns but often unfortunately they’re just not true. I am greatly disappointed in both the Labor Party and the union movement that they are not working with the Government to get our youth off welfare and into work.

This is a good program and you can see today with the announcement that the retail industry in Australia, one of the fastest growing industries, one of the biggest employers in Australia, has put its hand up and said: "We want to work with the Government to get up to 10,000 youth off welfare and into work."

I say to Labor and the unions, get on board a program that is going to make a real difference in the lives of our young people.


Just to add to what Michaela has said, I mean the truth of the matter is that Bill Shorten is a real threat to small business. He is a real threat to jobs. He does not have a single policy that would encourage any business to invest or to hire. These small businesses - and we met some of them just in the cafe a moment ago - they are all going to benefit. They are benefitting now from the tax cut for small and medium businesses. Now that gives them more money after tax to invest and to grow. That’s always been why governments reduce business taxes and have done, both Labor and Liberal governments in fact, over the years.

Bill Shorten is now on this you know politics of envy, anti-business campaign. That’s where he has staked his ground. So he is going to go to the election and he’s going to say, he’s promised, he’s going to put up their taxes. He’s going to give them a disincentive to invest and to hire.

He’s against a program that brings young kids that are on welfare into internships so that they get the taste of work, they get the experience of work and they can get on the ladder to success. He’s against that.

And of course he wants to jack up personal income tax.

So everything in Bill Shorten's portfolio of policies, as he is laying them out now, marks a very clear line. Everything he’s doing is going to discourage investments, it’s going to discourage growth it’s going to discourage employment.

Everything we’re doing is encouraging investment, encouraging employment. Like this initiative today, encouraging the economic growth that creates the opportunities we want to deliver and ensure for our kids and grandchildren.


Prime Minister Arthur Sinodinos this morning on radio, said that Tony Abbott can’t be controlled. Do you think it’s now time to pull him into line?


The only personalities I’m interested in are 24 million Australians.


Hear hear.


We’re delivering the economic growth. We’re delivering the job opportunities and the security for them. We’ve got a huge amount done in our first year since the election. Just think about it.

Again - another thing the Labor Party doesn’t like - restoring the rule of law to the construction sector. Bill Shorten wants to line up with John Setka and the CFMEU. Just think about this. This is a man who is a wholly own subsidiary of thugs.

The CFMEU threatens - is threatening public servants who work for the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Blatant threats of violence and stalking, that was what was put out there by Setka. Who is his greatest apologist? Bill Shorten. Michaela his successfully reintroduced the Australian Building and Construction Commission to restore the rule of law, to protect small businesses to protect Australians from thugs. Shorten is committed to abolishing it. We’re delivering the tax cuts for small and medium business so they’ve got the money to invest and to grow. Shorten wants to jack their taxes up again. He wants to put up income tax.

He is an enemy of investment and an enemy of employment.

We need more investment, more employment, more opportunities.


Prime Minister your admission on the weekend that you’d resign from the Party - two points on this, isn’t this a threat that would ultimately cause a chaotic bi-election? Secondly, was this pointed advice to Tony Abbott?


Look I intend to be Prime Minister for a very long time. I know you may think that at 62 I am too old, I can assure you I’m going to be Prime Minister for a very long time. I will be running at the 2019 election and will win. So that's my commitment. I will be Prime Minister for a long time and I look forward to meeting you at many press conferences like this over many, many years to come.


Prime Minister Tanya Plibersek has offered you her sympathies this morning, saying it must be difficult to govern with Tony Abbott always on your shoulder. What do you say to her sympathies?


What I say is my sympathies are directed at the about the 260,000 young Australians who can't get a job, 15-24. That’s where my sympathy is directed. More importantly, that’s where my policy is directed. The policies that are going to get them a chance to do an internship and get into a job. That’s my focus.


But do you think that Tanya Plibersek has a point there, do you accept her sympathies?


Well I’m focused on my job, I’m not interested in political gossip and you know something? Australians aren't either. Australians want me and Michaela and Trent to focus on them, on the needs of 24 million Australians. On the needs of young Australians who can't get a job, to get a job. On the needs of small businesses who need a hand so they can invest and grow, to do so. That’s what we are delivering. That is what we have delivered.

We have delivered so much in the 12 months since the election. Many wise people in the media said we couldn't get anything through the Senate. They said we would be in office but not in power. Well I'm sorry, we’ve disappointed you.

We’re governing, we’re delivering.

Big educational reforms; For the first time, national, consistent, needs-based funding for all schools.

Reforming childcare, delivering company tax cuts, personal income tax cuts, restoring the rule of law to the construction sector and so much more.

That's what we're doing. We’re governing and we’re delivering and that is just in the first year of this 3-year term.


Prime Minister what are you hoping to achieve at the G20 this week?


Yes, thank you. The G20, which I’ll be attending later this week, is the most important international meeting of the largest 20 economies in the world. The focus will be on trade, on ensuring that we retain a commitment to free trade. That is of particularly big importance to Australia you know, we have already, Barnaby Joyce, as you know, in Europe talking to the Europeans about a Free Trade Agreement, advancing our negotiations there.

Steven Ciobo has been in South America talking about the opportunity to develop a free trade arrangement with a number of the South American countries, with the Pacific alliance there. But overall, trade is vitally important, critically important. Look at the jobs and the opportunities that those big Free Trade Agreements we have entered into in our region, have created.

Also a key focus on the meeting will be on counter-terrorism. That is a global threat. The threat of Islamist terrorism, the threat is absolutely global. There is nowhere that is ‘far away’ from anywhere else, particularly in the age of the internet. So again, that increased collaboration in the fight against terrorism, is going to be very important, very big focus of the meeting. Also of course, how we ensure that the internet - which has delivered so much progress and so much opportunity for so many people - is not able to be used as a vehicle for spreading hatred and the shocking murderous ideology of the Islamist terrorists. So that is going to be another big part of it.

But I am looking forward to the meeting. It is a very, very important summit.


There’s research out today that says building a low-emissions coal plant is quite a lot cheaper than expected. Is that something you have considered committing to?


Well I’m certainly very interested to read the report. Its been done, as I understand it, by leading engineering firms in Australia. As you know, our energy policy is governed by economics and engineering. It’s not governed by ideology and partisanship like the Labor Party is. We take an all-of-the-above approach to technology. They all have a role to play. As I said on the weekend, in the Op Ed that was published in the papers on the weekend, we will ensure that as older coal-fired power stations shut - because they’re too old, they’ve done their service - we are going to make sure that we have adequate baseload power and we will be looking to ensure that it comes from whatever are the most cost-effective sources. That can include clean coal, advanced coal-fired power stations. It can include renewables. It can include gas. It can include hydro. I just want to draw your attention to the fact that we are building the largest pumped hydro scheme in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world, in the Snowy Mountains.

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 is a gigantic project. It’s going to employ 5,000 people in construction. It’s going to be able to deliver 2,000 megawatts of power. So that is actually twice the size of the power station that was referred to in the report. So it is a massive project and one that in fact can be expanded from that. So I can assure you that everything we are doing is focused on getting the right, practical, hard-headed approach the energy.

In the near term we are taking steps to ensure that exports are limited, of gas from the east coast, so we have enough gas for our domestic market. The high price of gas driven by that shortage is one of the things that put upward pressure on electricity prices and obviously gas prices in recent times. As you know also, in the more medium term we are taking steps to ensure that electricity companies can’t game the system and appeal decisions of the regulator on what they can charge for their poles and wires.

So at every level, my approach to energy is to ensure that we deliver affordable, reliable electricity and we meet our emissions reductions obligations. But we do so, guided by economics and engineering. This is no place for one-liners, slogans, ideology, politics, partisanship. All of that has failed. What you need now is leadership, engineering, economics, delivering affordable, reliable power and meeting those emission reduction commitments.

On that note, thank you all very much on this chilly morning at Crows Nest.