Topics: Taipan helicopters; JobSeeker;

08:02AM AEST
31 July 2023


Simon Birmingham: Good morning. All of our thoughts are clearly with the families of the four Australian Defence Force personnel missing as a result of the Taipan helicopter crash. These four personnel, our uniform, they serve our nation and sadly, we see these sorts of tragic circumstances occurring and we extend every element of our thoughts and love to their families, their loved ones, their mates and all of those with whom they serve in the Australian Defence Force.


Journalist: Does the Government need to consider phasing out the Taipans earlier?


Simon Birmingham: Well, they’re matters for the Australian Defence Force to make sure they have the most thorough investigation possible, that they provide absolute confidence to our serving personnel of the operational safety of the equipment. The previous government made the decision to bring forward and fund the acquisition of replacement helicopters in the form of Black Hawks. We did so after some performance concerns in regards to the Taipans. Since then, during the course of this year, there have been these other related issues and they are, of course, of serious concern and they deserve the most thorough of investigations to give that confidence to our defence personnel.


Journalist: Just on JobSeeker, if the Coalition’s amendments to Labor’s bill don’t get up this week, will, does the Coalition still plan to back the increase to JobSeeker?


Simon Birmingham: We’ll take whatever policies we need to the next election, but on the legislation that is before the Parliament this week, we are urging the Government to support very sensible proposal from the Coalition and to ensure Australians can keep more of what they earn. That those 800,000 Australians who are on jobseeker at present get the incentive to work to actually pick up some part time work, some casual work, which is good for them, puts more money in their pockets, but also helps ease some of the pressures in our economy right now. That we have real pressures in terms of labour shortages which are adding to the inflation pressures across the economy. Small and medium sized businesses are crying out to get more people available to do more work. And our proposal will give more people the opportunity and the incentive to pick up more work. And that’s why the government should embrace that proposal. After Peter Dutton proposed it following the budget, there was a glimmer there where Labor looked like they were thinking about it and indicated some support for it. They ought to revisit that, not be too proud to back good Coalition policy because that’s what this is.


Journalist: Just to clarify though, the Opposition will take the policy to the next election to wind back that $40 increase to JobSeeker?


Simon Birmingham: We’ll detail all of our policies at the next election and they will be fully costed at the time of the next election and we’ll outline all of those in usual way. What we’re dealing with right now is legislation before the Parliament and we are putting forward in the Parliament a proposal that is good policy that should take effect immediately because it is timely policy as well. With all of the inflationary pressures we have right now, with all of the labour market demands that exist in the economy, the government should back this proposal from the Coalition.


Journalist: The Government’s done preliminary testing on your proposal and they actually say the opposite, that it will disincentivise people to get more work, I suppose. What do you think about that?


Simon Birmingham: That doesn’t stack up. The idea that you get to keep more of what you earn clearly has to create an incentive for people to undertake more hours of work to pick up extra work. That’s the heart of this proposal, is to create the incentive for people to keep a bit more of what they earn. So that the majority of those 800,000 Australians who are on JobSeeker who currently record no additional earnings, have a bigger incentive to pick up some casual work to undertake some part time work and in doing so they get to keep more of what they earn. That’s got to help them get out there and assist in their own income streams, as well as help small and medium sized businesses across the economy. And in doing so ease some of those labour market pressures that only add to inflationary pressures. So, it’s a real win for the individual who does the work, a win for the businesses who need more employees and a win for the economy in reducing some of those inflationary pressures.


Journalist: Do you not think that it’s implying that people who are currently on these services actually have time to find more work? What you’re proposing.


Simon Birmingham: These are 800,000 Australians who are on JobSeeker, most of whom currently record no income from additional work undertaked. So, yes, they have time to work because they are on JobSeeker. They’re not on disability payments. They’re not on other forms of our social safety net in Australia. They’re on the JobSeeker payment. They are expected to be looking for work. They are expected to be available for work and this is about creating an additional incentive for them to undertake work. Thanks, guys.