Question Time to Minister Cash about the JobMaker Scheme

Senator ANTIC: My question is to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Minister, as the global economy faces the greatest economic decline since the Great Depression as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, how will the Morrison government's JobMaker plan accelerate infrastructure investment to drive our economic recovery and create jobs for Australians?

Senator CASH: I thank Senator Antic for the question. The Prime Minister today outlined the next phase of the government's JobMaker plan to support Australia and Australians' recovery from COVID-19. He announced that almost $72 billion of major infrastructure projects across Australia will now be fast-tracked under an agreement struck between the state, federal and territory governments. It will see approval times slashed by half and it will see the creation of 66,000 jobs.

As a government, we are also committing to a further $1.5 billion to immediately commence work on small priority projects identified by the states and the territories. One billion dollars will be allocated to priority projects which are shovel-ready and half-a-billion dollars will be reserved specifically to target road safety works. This builds on the $7.8 billion worth of projects we've brought forward since November of last year. Fifteen major projects are fast-tracked for approval under a bilateral model between the Commonwealth and the states and territories. The projects include emergency town water projects in New South Wales; road, rail and iron projects in Western Australia; the Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane; the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria; and of course, Senator Antic, in your home state, the Olympic Dam extension in South Australia. These 15 job-creating investments will be brought forward by targeting a 50 per cent reduction in Commonwealth assessment and approval times for major projects from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Antic, a supplementary question?


Senator ANTIC: Minister, how will the government's skills reform agenda support these job-creating infrastructure projects?


Senator CASH: The JobMaker program builds on the significant steps that the Morrison government is already taking to transform our training system to ensure that we have the skilled workforce that Australia needs. Our $585 million investment in our skills package is investing in supporting Australians to ensure that they have the skills that Australian businesses are telling us that they need. We're establishing the National Skills Commission to improve our skills and our labour market forecasting. We have established the National Careers Institute to evaluate the status of vocational education and training and to provide evidence based careers advice on vocational education pathways. We also are supporting, importantly, foundational skills for people with low educational attainment. These reforms are critical to support Australians into careers, to support Australian businesses to get the skilled employees that they need and to support our infrastructure investment as we recover from COVID-19.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Antic, a final supplementary question?


Senator ANTIC: Minister, how will the government's JobMaker plan bring Australians together and support the economy to rebuild following the COVID-19 downturn?


Senator CASH: The JobMaker plan is, of course, our road map for a new generation of economic success to guarantee the essential services that all Australians rely on. As we all reset for growth, the Morrison government's JobMaker plan will be guided by principles to secure Australia's future, and these principles include that we will remain an outward-looking, open and sovereign trading economy. We must seek to leverage and build on our strengths—an educated and highly skilled workforce that supports a thriving and innovative services sector, and a modern and competitive advanced manufacturing sector. And, of course, we must ensure that there is opportunity in Australia for those who have a go to get a go.

As we have shown, working together across states and across territories as Australians, we will be able to restore jobs and support the economic recovery that Australia needs as a result of COVID-19.