Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

ABC Illawarra Melinda James


MELINDA JAMES: Minister good morning.

MINISTER MORRISON: Good morning Melinda.

JAMES: Now first of all tell us why you are here? Tell us about the speech you will be giving at the Early Start facility that has been open for a little while now but why you feel it is a place of significance.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it is a place that has been made possible not through the successive investments of federal governments through the various funds that have been established for these purposes but the Abbott Foundation who invested in this project some $7 million shows the great work that can be done by philanthropy to create these sorts of facilities in our higher education institutions. But more importantly than all of that, this is a centre which is leading the way in terms of teaching excellence to ensure that we get the best possible early childhood educators out there around the country but particularly in disadvantaged areas and especially so in NSW. This is a hub; it is a facilitator of getting good quality education and information out to the sector and a place of research and development which ensures that the Illawarra in particular here is leading the way around the country.

JAMES: There’s – not enough can be said I guess particularly from researcher’s point of view about the importance of preschool and what it can offer to kids before they reach school. Here in NSW I think our funding for preschool is definitely below par compared to the rest of the country.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well what has happened is as a result the federal government’s investment in early childhood education, particularly through child care support is what really picks up the slack in that respect in NSW. I’d like to see that change in NSW, in other states we have seen that – that is a matter for them. The federal government with our Jobs for Families package will put $3.5 billion extra into early childhood education and child care around the country but we have also committed to a further two years of the 15 hours a week in the year before you go to school which provides for preschool education for all Australian children around the country. That is $230 million over two years.

JAMES: Now Minister after you’ve given that speech at the University of Wollongong you will be heading to the Hope Centre at Warrawong what do they do there and why visit that particular place?

MINISTER MORRISON: It is an exciting place that I had the opportunity to meet and go and visit down in April – there in April. It started off with a food bank and from there it has expanded into a youth programme which involves training young people with a whole range of skills but in particular getting a pilot programme up which has been getting people to the starting line of a job. They have taken young people from the Illawarra who have found it very very difficult to get into work for a whole range of reasons that go to the situation in which they find themselves coming to the centre and what this does is it runs basically a programme to get those kids up to speed and be able to go out there look people in the eye, turn up for an interview, get themselves job ready and they are having remarkable success out of the first 20 people that went through some 17 actually ended up in work, now that is what we want to see happen. They’re kids who quite likely would never have seen the front door of a job let alone entered it.

JAMES: Well we do have not only a high unemployment rate here in our region but a very high youth unemployment rate, particular in the Shoalhaven in the southern part of our region. There has still been some criticism – of course the government was initially saying that they wanted to make people under the age of 30 wait six months before they could get the dole that has since been revised down to just four weeks. But why should young people have to wait to get the dole if they are seeking work?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well we are talking about young people who are job ready not those who suffer the sort of disadvantage that this Hope Project has, which we will be investing $100,000 a year in each year for the next two years. What we have done is we have invested more in jobs programmes and for young people who do face real difficulties in getting themselves into a job. But for those who are job ready the first stop shouldn’t be Centrelink the first stop should be out there seeking the jobs and putting themselves in a position to get those jobs or learning. Because the four week wait doesn’t apply if you are doing an apprenticeship or if you are in a course or you are going to university or anything like that. So there are carrots and sticks in this, we are encouraging people through new programmes to get into work with new investments like at the Hope Centre and at the same time we are saying that welfare is not the first option.

JAMES: But is this a kind of – is this a sort of stick approach to trying to get people out to find a job because people will still need a stop gap measure, the most job ready of young people might still take a couple of weeks to find a job and in the meantime they need money to feed themselves.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well as I have said the programme doesn’t apply to those who are disadvantaged, it doesn’t apply to those who for very legitimate reasons are unable to go home because of issues that may exist in those families. There are a myriad of exemptions which ensures that those who would be most vulnerable in these situations are taken care of and we have increased the emergency relief funding as well to be available to people who find themselves in that situation. So we have put the safeguards in around this four week wait – we don’t think four weeks is a period of time which is unreasonable in these circumstances for people who are job ready. In that four weeks they will go, they will put their CVs together, they will get part of a jobactive programme, they will put themselves through that process and what we all hope to see is that they end up in a job not at Centrelink.

JAMES: Can I just get you to confirm or at least clarify some changes that we have heard about that came into place as of the 1st of July, that employment service providers now have new powers that enable them to suspend payments or fine job seekers if they miss appointments – firstly is that the case now?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I will have to come back to you on that one that is a matter for the Minister of Employment which is outside my portfolio so happy to get some information back to your programme on that on the course of the morning. But more broadly this new programme is about – for example in our new work for the dole programme people can go and work in a real job for the dole for a period of time and then they can then graduate to an employer subsidy programme which would see them supported with $10,000 to the employer to stay in a job for six months and after that they’ll be a position hopefully to have proved themselves to that employer and be able to be there in their own right. So there is a myriad of programmes we have put in place to help people get in work and stay in work. Another programme was $20 million to support Headstart for young people who are struggling with mental illnesses to help them get into work as well as a similar amount to help young migrant and refugee youths who also have difficulties finding themselves in education or employment, so some $370 million in total in the Budget to help people into learning or into work.

JAMES: Alright Scott Morrison thank you very much for your time we have to move on.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks for that.