Mr PASIN (Barker) (16:00): The temerity of the Australian Labor Party and their members of parliament to come in here and debate a false premise, namely the government’s failure to deliver a proper jobs plan for the people of Australia, to be honest, doesn’t know any boundary. That a party that left the parliament in late November, early December last year fighting each other over one person’s job, namely the Leader of the Opposition’s, and who spent all of Christmas, New Year and that time in January continuing those fights has the temerity to come in here and accuse us—that is, the government and the Prime Minister, who are getting on with the job of protecting Australians and their livelihoods—just beggars belief.
Those opposite in this debate this afternoon have been fond of saying, ‘We’re on your side.’ I warn the people of Australia: Be very cautious of any member of parliament who professes to be on your side. Rather than listen to their words, look at their actions. And, while you’re doing that, look at the government’s actions on this issue over the course of the pandemic. Of course, we stepped into the breach when it was needed and established JobKeeper. While we were dealing with that, we moved onto JobMaker and the hiring credits that were necessitated to facilitate that. I’ll get to the statistics on where we are in relation to the national unemployment rate in a minute. There are also apprentice and trainee incentives. Of course, almost on cue, because he must have known I was looking to speak to this issue, Minister Sukkar enters the chamber and I mention the fabulously successful HomeBuilder program.
If those opposite want to come here and say there’s no plan for jobs post-pandemic, I challenge you to go and find a tradie in this country and say, ‘The Morrison government has no plan for your jobs going forward.’ I think almost every tradesman in this country will say to you: ‘Rubbish. We know the good work that HomeBuilder has done. We know that we’ve got more work than we can fly a rocket ship over and we know that that’s going long into the future.’ Don’t stop at the plumber, the electrician, the concreter, the tiler, the surveyor. Come to my community and let’s go to a timber mill where that timber is sawn into structural timber that goes into frames. Talk to those timber workers. The old Labor Party would have done that once upon a time, but unfortunately the disconnect between the Labor Party and those that work in those facilities is now at its highest.
I said earlier I’d talk about unemployment statistics and where we’re at. Those opposite, indeed, all Australians, indeed, everyone on this globe, understand the scale and scope of the pandemic—a one-in-a-century event that we’ve been dealing with. I think it’s important that Australians understand that the unemployment rate in December fell to 8.5 per cent. How does that compare, pray tell, to December 2019? As I said, it was 8.5 per cent in December 2020. Well, in December 2019 it was 8.2 per cent, so before the pandemic we had an unemployment rate at 8.2 per cent. After everything this nation has been through over the last 12 months—nay, everything the world has been through over the last 12 months—the plans and the programs that have been implemented by our government have meant that we have recovered to the point of being 0.3 per cent above the rate of unemployment that existed prior to the pandemic taking hold.
Those opposite can come in here and try to create fake fights with the coalition; they can try to put a message out of this place to Australian workers and the Australian citizenry that the coalition government, led the Prime Minister Morrison, has not done a good job. But they know that this has been a very difficult period and they know that this ship has been steered particularly well. And you lose credibility by coming in and making these arguments. Work with us to make sure we can recover even better and be best positioned in the world. Don’t come in here and have fake fights in the interests of the Leader of the Opposition.