Regional Australia Institute Summit, Canberra
Journalist: You're here to today to launch this jobs report; what is your key take-out from it?
Michael McCormack: The key take-out is the future of regional jobs is bright, and of course the future of regional jobs is also many and varied. The Regional Australia Institute has done such a power of work, and they do such a power of good, to make the sure that the changing dynamics of regional Australia are identified and where we can fit in as a Government with that through things such as infrastructure, through things such as decentralisation. Now we're doing that as a Government—a $100 billion infrastructure package which is going to make such a difference to regional lives and regional jobs.
Of course, through our decentralisation policies we are making sure we identify those Government jobs that can be moved to a country, coastal, remote or rural or regional area; but we also as a Government encourage businesses to do the same, to look at the opportunities that are in regional Australia. I made the point in the conference, the fact that we're busting through congestion in our metropolitan areas but I would urge and encourage all those people who do get tired of looking at the brake lights in front of them when they're travelling to and from work to consider a move to regional Australia. Many, many thousands of people have done that in recent years and I would like to think that many more will do so in future years, certainly based on the Liberals' and Nationals' policies which are only boosting rural and regional Australia. It was, as I say, a Budget for regional Australia on Tuesday.
Journalist: This report puts a lot of focus on communities driving their own ability to sustain jobs and create opportunities in the workforce, sort of taking that responsibility away from the Government. Is that the Government's view—would you welcome that, to have that responsibility taken away from you and do you think that's right?
Michael McCormack: Absolutely I would. That fact is that we put the economic policies in place which encourage businesses to actually hire people. Through our policies and our economic narrative we have made sure that business—small, medium and large as well—have had the ability and the confidence to put on 1.25 million Australians over the past five or six years. That's 1.25 million jobs that weren't there before, particularly for young people but also we shouldn't forget older people who are transitioning from a career that they've perhaps had for decades into something different, something new.
We've looked after them through our economic policies and business has backed them all the way—and backed themselves all the way—taken the risk and hired people. That's because of our good economic narrative.
Journalist: But don't you think there is still a major role for Governments, State and Federal, to play in supporting these communities as opposed to just letting them do their own thing?
Michael McCormack: We don't just let them do their own thing. We actually back them through good policies. We back them through infrastructure. We back them by making sure that businesses pay the lowest tax rate that they possibly can, and at the moment it's the lowest it's been since 1940. We're also very much incentivising these rural and regional communities through our $525 million Skills Package and I know what a difference that's going to make for country areas.
Journalist: You did preface in your speech, Mr McCormack, that you haven't actually read the report, you just skimmed through it, so are you comfortable with the content?
Michael McCormack: I will certainly be reading it tonight; tonight will be the first night this week that I haven't actually had a function to go to or a place to be. I've certainly read the executive summary. It's a very very good report. I like what I've read so far and I'm looking forward to seeing what else is in it; I've certainly had a number of discussions with Mal Peters over the years about how we can grow regional jobs and we as a Government—based on our already great record of doing just that—can only do more in the future.