Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (11:20): This government has a very proud record and, in fact, a very exciting tale to tell on jobs at the moment, with 403,000 new jobs created in the economy last year, and 75 per cent of those being full time. That’s a record job creation package. It’s a great performance and we should be very proud of it.
To the motion, let me say it highlights lots of government jobs that have gone missing from Townsville, particularly in defence, but it also mentions CSIRO, customs and the ATO. Firstly, let me say that I am not aware that any of those jobs have been moved for anything other than operational issues. Would we expect anything less, as taxpayers and as a nation, than that these departments should run themselves in the most efficient manner? What else should we do? Defence will decide where their resources need to be, as will the ATO and the other government departments.
The second issue I’d like to raise is that the member’s motion carries the implication that government employing people is a way of fixing unemployment problems. It is not. That is a clear misunderstanding of how our economy runs. Basically governments tax businesses and individuals to raise money to provide services. Those services result in people being paid and getting jobs. Really it has only shifted a job out of the business that generated the income in the first place and therefore paid taxation. It’s right and proper that that should be done-I’m certainly not suggesting that we don’t tax businesses and individuals in Australia and provide government services; of course we should, and we do-but we should provide the services where the services are needed.
This comes back to something I spoke of many times in the House, for instance, with the paucity of doctor supply in rural and regional Australia and the fact that largely their incomes resolve around the public purse, if you like-the subsidy scheme-but we seem to have no mechanisms of actually controlling where they deliver those services. That is a digression from this particular motion, but I just make the point that what we should be focusing on is growing jobs for businesses and individuals to grow employment in the communities.
Of course when you’ve got bigger communities you will need more government workers. Unfortunately in so many of our communities-particularly in South Australia, I must say; the good people of South Australia have the ability to pass judgement on their current state government in just a couple of weeks’ time-those jobs have been reducing in regional and rural areas and not growing. But that’s not because the government jobs have disappeared; it’s because the primary jobs have disappeared.
I would love to speak on this subject in my electorate in three or four weeks, by which time, I’m very hopeful, we will have announced the recipients of the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages around the Upper Spencer Gulf, which was a government action to move in when we had the very tough times in Whyalla and Port Augusta with the closure of the power station there to generate economic outcomes to employ more people. There are three possible ways people can apply to that $20 million worth of funding. There can be public infrastructure, and I know some councils have put some bids in along those lines; there is education and training; and, of course, there is support for businesses to grow their businesses to employ more people.
That is certainly where I hope the bulk of that money goes. It will be up to the minister of course and the department to make those decisions but I’m hoping that’s where it will go. I know some of the bids that are in the mix. For instance, there is crane company looking to purchase a mobile crane that at this stage is not available in Australia and is tall enough to reach the latest of the new windfarms going into my electorate and into others. There is another company looking to grow their kingfish operation. They are breeding kingfish fingerlings, feeding them up and capturing premium markets overseas. It is a wonderful fish. I recently toured their facility. I am looking forward to that package. We’ve got a good story to tell but we need to be focused on those primary jobs, the jobs in private enterprise that feed the rest of the economy. (Time expired)