Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


South Australian Jobs

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (15:09): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector regarding employment.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON: On 16 February, The Advertiser reported the nation's official unemployment rate jumped unexpectedly to 3.7 per cent in January, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. ABS head of labour statistics, Bjorn Jarvis, said the unemployment rate rose by 0.2 per cent in January as the number of people in jobs fell by more than 11,000 and the number of unemployed people increased by about 22,000.

The Australian Council of Social Service said the rise in unemployment demonstrated the RBA's rapid and drastic interest rate rises were having adverse impact on employment and should be paused. The RBA has raised interest rates nine consecutive times since May of last year, from 0.1 per cent to 3.35 per cent in its mission to slow the economy and clamp down on inflation. My questions to the minister are:

1. What is the government doing to secure jobs in South Australia?

2. How is the government stimulating the economy to create jobs?

3. What is the government doing to prevent brain drain?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:11): I thank the honourable member for her question. Obviously, her question relates to private sector jobs not public sector employees because we know that those opposite continually call for massive cuts in the public sector. Famously, in about 2014, the then leader, Isobel Redmond, wanted to cut, I think it was, a third of public sector employees and we remember how that ended—we remember how that ended.

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD: Point of order: the minister is answering a question about the year 2014. The member asked a question about this year: what's the government doing now? The issue is relevance.

The PRESIDENT: I know, minister, you are about to bring it right back to where it needs to be.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: As I was saying, we know the very long history of the Liberal Party, both in opposition and government, advocating for less jobs in South Australia by their attitude to the public sector, which I am responsible for.

The member raised unemployment figures. I will check to make sure but I think in the period before the one the member was quoting, South Australia had its lowest unemployment rate on record—the lowest ever recorded. Also in the month before, and I will double-check to make sure I have this correct, I think it was the highest number of South Australians ever employed, on record. I don't have them with me but I will check perhaps what the Single Touch Payroll figures had to say about that and their relevance to employment.

It is an absolute priority of this government to make sure that South Australians have jobs, good jobs and well paying jobs. I will be happy to have a look at what my colleagues responsible for employment programs, such as the Treasurer and the Minister for Industry, have in play because it will take the rest of question time and probably the rest of the day to explain just how focused this government is on that issue of employment. I will be happy to take that on notice and bring back a reply on the myriad ways the government is supporting that through a whole range of areas in many, many portfolios.