Interview with 6PR Live

Oliver Peterson
Apprenticeship wage subsidy for Australians; WA border closures

OLIVER PETERSON: If you have ever wanted an apprenticeship, the time to sign up is right now.

MICHAELIA CASH: That is exactly right. And as of Monday, if you’re a business in Western Australia and you’d like to take on a new apprentice or trainee, please do so, because the Government will provide you with a 50 per cent wage subsidy. We’ll pay 50 per cent of your apprentice’s wages between the 5th of October 2020 through to the 30th of September 2021. It is all about getting that skills pipeline secured, and getting people into work, and in this case, into apprenticeships and traineeships.

OLIVER PETERSON: So, that’s as you say, as of Monday, a couple days ago now.

MICHAELIA CASH: That’s exactly right.

OLIVER PETERSON: Businesses need to sign the dotted line to take advantage of this opportunity.

MICHAELIA CASH: They do. Look, just call my department and we’ll put you in contact with the right person. The government recognises the pressures caused by COVID-19, on businesses across the country. We know that in the current environment, we do need to support businesses, in particular employers and small businesses, of course, to take on new apprentices. So, this is all about commencing 100,000 new apprentices across Australia as quickly as possible with a 50 per cent wage subsidy.

OLIVER PETERSON: The JobMaker hiring credit also been part of the Budget last night. So, if you're under the age of 35, the Government will contribute up to $200 per week, depending on your age, for 12 months for a new job. I think this has been warmly welcomed to try and get younger people off JobSeeker into the workforce. But a lot of our listeners, Michaelia Cash, have indicated that for older Australians and those who might be between the years of 55 and before they can access a pension, they don't believe there's too much in this Budget for them that will encourage them to be able to get off JobSeeker and get back into the workforce.

MICHAELIA CASH: Well, just on the the hiring credit. Absolutely. This is about getting young people off welfare and into work as quickly as possible. As you know, Ollie, we want to avoid the scarring that happens when young people lose work in recessions and struggle to return to the workforce. So, you are right, we are incentivising employers to take on, and it's got to be an additional young person. In terms of older people, I would point out to your listeners that we already have in place and have had for many years the Restart wage subsidy, and that is for people who are 50 years and over. So, if you are an employer out there, you'd like to take on someone who's 50 years or over, you are able to access- it's the $10,000 Restart wage subsidy paid over a six-month period. In the last few years, it's actually helped over 50,000 Australians get into a job. But I'd also say, Ollie, in terms of the apprenticeships, this is not just for young people. And in fact, I think there's around 15,500 people over the age of 45 currently in training. So, I would say to anybody out there, mature age who'd like to do a mature age apprenticeship, speak to an employer, because with the 50 per cent wage subsidy, now's the time to sign you up.

OLIVER PETERSON: So, there is no age discrimination when it comes to any of these opportunities, Michaelia Cash? That’s really important, I think, to highlight, because on the surface, most people are indicating that this is going to advantage younger Jobseekers as opposed to older Jobseekers.

MICHAELIA CASH: No. Look, older JobSeekers in particular, they bring that skillset, that wisdom, the experience that young people don’t have. We know that we need to get young people back into work as quickly as possible. We don't want them facing a lifetime of welfare. And that's why we have the hiring credit. But for older people, as I said, you've already got the Restart wage subsidy. There's a number of other employment programs in place for them, but also apprenticeships, traineeships. If you are mature age and you'd like to do one of them, absolutely. That wage subsidy to commence a new apprentice or trainee is available to any potential employer for you.

OLIVER PETERSON: I believe we're having a chat this afternoon as you are in Federal Parliament in Canberra. I just want to run one other issue by you, Michaelia Cash. We had the Chief Health Officer of Western Australia, Andrew Robertson, on the program yesterday indicate that travel bubbles may be an option within a couple of weeks between states or territories which are COVID-free. Would this be a way forward, you believe, to bring down WA’s hard border?

MICHAELIA CASH: Absolutely. Look, I think to date, Western Australians have accepted the hard border closure and they've been happy with it. But quite frankly, now there's no longer a public health argument in favour of preventing Western Australians travelling, for example, to South Australia or South Australians travelling to WA or to the NT. Or even to the ACT where I am. There’s no health argument. If there’s no health argument, you do need to question why the McGowan Government is not taking those steps. And they can be small steps, but to open up that travel bubble and allow those states that haven't had cases of community transmission for a lot longer than WA now, for us to freely travel between them.

OLIVER PETERSON: Alright. We will see what happens on that front. Michaelia Cash, appreciate your time. I’ll let you get back to the Chamber.

MICHAELIA CASH: Great to be with you, Ollie.