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Transcript 17862

Speech to Australian Agenda UBS Lunch, Sydney

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/2011

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 17862

Thank you very much for that introduction and can I say I'm very much looking forward to the panel discussion which will follow my opening remarks, and can I acknowledge my panellists, of course Paul Kelly who will be moderating the discussion, Kerry, Gail and Steven and I will do our best to shed some light on contemporary circumstances, but before we get there I've got the opportunity to speak to you about the Government's view following the Budget last week.

I and my colleagues, including Penny Wong, the Minister for Finance, who is with us today, came to the task of framing the Government's budget at a time of transition, a time of transition where we believe global economic might is transitioning from west to east. This is not a temporary phenomenon, though of course it has been on display during the global financial crisis, but it is the movement of our times. The history of this century will be written in the Asia-Pacific.

Second, it's a time of transition for our domestic economy, as we transition from sluggish growth following the global financial crisis, to facing capacity constraints as a huge resources boom comes to our nation, with literally billions and billions of dollars of investments in the pipeline - hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now, the fact that we're talking about a movement from sluggish growth to rapid growth, in and of itself, should be cause for congratulations, because so many countries around the world haven't experienced growth of any dimension in recent days.

We came out of the global financial crisis strong. We came out strong largely by working together - the Australian Government working with Australian businesses to preserve Australian jobs. We engaged in the right measures to protect employment whilst the world confronted the biggest global economic shock since the Great Depression, and now we move from that period in our domestic economy, to one where we will be looking at record terms of trade driving growth.

We know that this growth will be driven at different rates in different places. It's what I refer to as ‘the patchwork economy', and we understood that challenge of difference from community to community as we put the budget together.

The third transition that confronted us as we put this budget together was the transition in energy usage that our economy needs to make. We need to decouple economic growth from emissions growth - that is part of what we have to do to make sure that we have prosperity in the future.

And there was a fourth major transition also confronting us as we framed this budget: that is, the continued transition in technology, particularly in information technology, which confronts our nation and confronts our world. Increasingly economic success is defined by seconds - the seconds in which you can get information - and there's no prizes for coming second, and so our technology revolution in this country had to continue.

So, days of global transition, days of domestic transition, days of energy transition, days of technology transition. These were all in our minds as we framed the Budget announced on Tuesday night.

We're also confronting the impacts of natural disasters, not only here in our own country, but around the world. We've lived through a dreadful summer and I continue as Prime Minister to confront the Australians who still rebuilding their lives from that dreadful summer, most recently last Friday I was in country Victoria, meeting with people who had been flooded three times.

So, those tales of human misery have joined together to have a profound economic impact. So, as we put this Budget together we knew we were confronting circumstances that had written three quarters of a per cent off GDP; that was going to knock eight and three quarter billion dollars off the budget bottom line.

So, a challenging set of circumstances in which to deliver a budget that would stand the test of time and matter as we shaped our future, but I came to this task and the team I lead came to this task determined not only to confront these transitions but to shape that future.

We do not believe in allowing the future to be shaped by forces unleashed in our world and our economy. We believe that we have a responsibility as a Government to lead and to actively shape our future, and so we brought a spirit of can-do to these circumstances and you see the outcome of that spirit in the Budget document.

We decided to engaged in a transition of our own, a fiscal transition. The biggest fiscal consolidation this nation has been in 44 years, a rapid consolidation to a budget surplus in 2012-13, exactly as promised, because that is what our economy will require as we move to stronger and stronger growth and near capacity constraints.

That did require the making of tough choices and we didn't shy away from any of them. Inevitably that will cause some short-term commentary and we've seen some of that on display, but ensuring that we were not, as a Government, adding to the inflationary pressures which will be in our economy as a result of it coming to full capacity was the key driver in our fiscal choices in this Budget - the right thing to do by the nation and we're ensuring that it's getting done.

We also determined in this Budget to meet a resources boom with an opportunity boom, to make sure that across our nation Australians have the benefit of the opportunities that this resources boom could bring. That's why at the centre of this Budget you've seen participation and skills measures. I am very determined as Prime Minister that we harness this record period of economic growth to make a long-term difference to disadvantage in this country and to the opportunity of Australians in their own lives.

I determined most particularly that you would see participation measures at the heart of this Budget, because it is not satisfactory to me that I can meet with business leaders day after day and hear them talk about skills shortage and I can visit communities on the same day that continue to have double-digit youth unemployment rates and continue to be home to people who lead lives of quiet disadvantage outside society's mainstream.

So, we determined to meet a resources boom with an opportunities boom, with new participation measures for our young Australians, so it is very clear to them from the earliest of days that you must be learning or earning, there is no third choice of taking yourself outside the labour market and into what will be a life of disadvantage as a result.

That we could step up during this phase of economic growth, to offering more opportunities for people with disabilities, many of whom want to work, but who have not been extended an opportunity; that we could use this phase of economic growth to make a difference to the very long-term unemployed; that we could use it to make a difference to the participation rate of Australian women in work; and consequently we determined to engage in reforms for women who had been left behind by earlier welfare-to-work measures, particularly mums of teenage children.

And we determined to send a message, as well as make a saving, by the abolition for younger women of the dependent spouse tax offset. In the modern age, of course, we expect adults of capacity to work, and we sent a message, too, by bringing forward the low-income tax offset, so some of our most low-income workers could see, pay packet to pay packet, the benefits of their work.

And whilst the mental health package has rightly been reported as a health measure to meet the needs of Australians today, the health care needs that so many Australians have, the mental health measure itself is a participation measure - ensuring that we do not allow mental illness to take Australians, particularly young Australians, beyond the reach of the benefits and dignity of work.So, we determined to meet a resources boom with an opportunities boom by getting more Australians into work. We also determined that we needed to make sure that Australians had the benefit of new skills and new opportunities for training. That's important for people as they step up to work, but it's also important if we are, within our businesses and industries, to harness the best of this phase of growth.

People are crying out for skilled workers and we can in part assist with that by making sure that Australians have the opportunities to get the skills they need. That's why I'm very proud that there is a $3 billion training packages at the heart of this Budget.

We are using this money to make a difference to training now, but also to use $1.7 billion to drive long-term reform.

We want industry at the heart of our skills system. I think many Australians worry when they hear the language of training places, because they worry that too much training is done with too little outcome - people who don't complete or people who don't get a job having completed - which is why putting industry right at the centre of our training system is so important.

Industry and businesses know what the skills are that they need, and if we can partner with you in generating those skills then they will have immediate economic benefits for the business as well as for the individual who has gained those skills.

So, we've determined to grow the number of places where we partner with industry by 130,000. We are also intending to modernise apprenticeships, providing more efficient ways of people getting the technical and trades skills they need and making sure more of our young people finish that apprenticeship, because an apprenticeship ticket is the equivalent of a great start in life.

As structural reforms in vocational education and training will stand alongside the human capital reforms I have driven in early childhood education, in school education and in university education and you will see in this reform agenda we revisit some familiar themes.

We will work with the States, but we will require better performance. We will require that training is better matched to future jobs growth; that TAFE is revitalised and students can build the links they need for broader learning for life and also for new opportunities if they chose to move into other parts of tertiary education.

Our $1.75 billion will drive an ambitious reform agenda. I will require transparency and we will reward the training changes that make a difference to completion. I want to make sure that our training effort is geared to the needs to our economy now, and that's what the $3 billion is all about.

This structural reform will be led by industry demand and that is necessary if we are better to align our training system with the needs of our economy.

This Budget, too, is driven by a better understanding of place. An opportunity boom requires us to understand that this phase of economic growth and economic development is not going to change every community in the same way.

I've been to communities in this country desperate to see growth, desperate to see more workers join their community, because jobs are literally going begging and people need them done.

I've been to communities in this country that are suffering the burdens of congestion, where the only way of getting a job is to jump in a car and to drive for a long period of time to reach somewhere where you can work.

Now we need to bring an understanding of place and the differential impacts of this phase of growth in our economy to the way that government works. We know the resources boom, driving as it is a high Australian dollar, is having a set of effects on tourism, on international education and on manufacturing that we need to understand.

Those effects are experienced by industry, but they are experienced by Australians with a sense of place, where they are in their communities, which is why measures in this Budget are more finely calibrated to have a sense of place than budgets in the past.

For example, our focus on regional visas for new skilled migrants, our focus on enterprise migration agreements, which will enable proponents of major projects with capital expenditure of more than $2 billion and peak workforce for more than 1,500 to have a purpose-specific migration plan. These reforms are important to that sense for place and differential impact in our economy.

So, the budget in one word, or in one sentence, in a story for you, is about getting back in the black. It's about making sure that more Australians experience the benefits of the resources boom. It's about making sure we do the things we need to do to keep our economy strong.

We will pursue the reforms at the heart of this Budget in tandem with our other long-term and profoundly economy-changing reforms - particularly our reform to price carbon.

We all know that we need to break the nexus between economic growth and emissions growth, and despite all of the huff and puff one would see in the daily media, in fact cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 is a bipartisan objective.

So, the only question we're asking ourselves, really, is what's the best way to get it done, what's the most efficient way to get it done: using a market-based mechanism or using excessive regulation? Well, I'm in the cart for the market-based mechanism and that's the reform that we will drive and deliver from 1 July next year.

And we will continue to drive our reform in the information technology revolution, the National Broadband Network, because it, in and of itself, will unleash a new wave of economic productivity. When I meet with the business community people understand - understand in their bones - the profound benefits of the National Broadband Network and we are determined to bring this technology to Australians right around the country.

As we move to the discussion phase of this event, I want to conclude by talking to you about the partnership that I believe exists between the Government I lead and the business community. It's a partnership that's been tested. It was tested during the days of the global financial crisis. It wasn't easy to work together under all of that pressure to maintain Australians in work, but we got that done and I thank you for it.

Now we have an opportunity for some new partnerships; some new partnerships as we move to this phase of economic growth; some new partnerships in providing opportunity to Australians. At the core of our participation measures are a number of programs to involve the business community in extending opportunity to Australians.

We want people to have a chance. That requires them to take an opportunity when it comes their way, it requires them to show responsibility when that opportunity comes their way, but it also requires someone to give them a chance and we will be asking you to work with us in offering a chance to some people who have been left behind, some people who have been left behind and are long-term unemployed, some people who have been left behind on the disability support pension, people who could use an opportunity if given an opportunity - I'll be asking you to do just that and hopefully we can work together to make sure that we extend the benefits of opportunity more widely to Australians than they've been extended before.

As we move into the conversation stage of today, I do want to conclude by reinforcing the need to for reform conversations. As Prime Minister, I lead a Government committed to reform and we, day after day, work as consultatively as we can to put together those reforms. Ultimately we will lead, and we have done, by the budget, having collected views across the business community and beyond as to how the budget should be shaped.

But reform leadership requires not just the Government to be out there as a proponent of the reform conversation. It requires all elements of our community to be in the reform conversation. We are a nation, I believe, with not a day to waste, not a day to waste in some of the more frivolous conversations that beset our national life. We need to make sure we are having a deep reform conversation about the changes our nation needs now, as we move into this history-making period of economic growth.

So, my challenge to you, to the nation more generally, is to be in that reform conversation. There are inevitably many issues that are intriguing in the moment, but we've got to look beyond those issues that are intriguing in the moment and work through those things that are truly momentous together.

Thank you very much.

Transcript 17862