Minister Rishworth interview on First Edition with Peter Stefanovic


PETER STEFANOVIC: More than 15,000 people living with disability will be directed to better performing job providers following a major review into the sector by the federal government. About six per cent of the Disability Employment Services Program will no longer be available due to poor performance, affecting half the providers nationwide. Eight will be closed altogether. The Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth joins me now from Canberra. Minister, good to see you thanks for your time this morning. So it does appear to be a low number of disability employment services that have been taken out. But will other providers be able to absorb those extra clients? Do you have any issues with that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I'm very confident that as a result of the action we have taken. Not only will we be getting poor performers out of the market and discontinue that poor performance, but we will be able to transition those 15,500 people living with a disability wanting to get work into employment services better performing employment services near where they live, which is very, very important. But I'm not going to make any apologies for standing by and watching what have been very poor performance over a long period of time, continue to provide bad service for people living with a disability. It was absolutely time to take action on this. 

PETER STEFANOVIC: For sure - and that and that all sounds good. But is there any guarantee you can provide that can get someone with a disability into work?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think that is actually something we need to be exploring. So for example, today I will be hosting a roundtable of business of people living with a disability, unions to actually discuss what are these barriers and how do we break these barriers down employment services and people supporting people into work is one thing that we can do. But of course, businesses changing their mindset changing some of their HR processes are really critical. And of course community changing their attitudes in how we support people living with a disability get into a job, because there are a lot of people living with a disability that want to work, but have these barriers in front of them. 

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay, the Prime Minister, he's going to receive the Solicitor General's report today on Scott Morrison secret ministry appointments given that the nation is facing so many issues at the moment if no wrongdoing is found, should that be the end of the matter? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think Australians are still scratching their head trying to understand what the Prime Minister did why he did it, because the pandemic doesn't explain his actions. But also, I think there's questions about those still sitting around the Shadow Cabinet table. We've got Barnaby Joyce yesterday saying 'well, I didn't say anything because I was worried about the National Party losing a ministry'. I mean, there are some pretty big concerns pretty big questions. And I think as Anthony Albanese has said, conventions were broken. We need to make sure that we have trust in our political system. We need the Australian people to have trust in our political system. And that's what us as a government will seek to restore.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay. Stage three tax cuts have been legislated as we know that many have now argued that the nation simply can't afford it and when they do come in the cuts will overwhelmingly favour men. Do you think those cuts should still go ahead?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: These tax cuts are scheduled to start in two years’ time they've been legislated and we've said we've got no plans to change it. But what the Albanese Government's doing right now is tackling the issues in front of us right now. We've got as you mentioned in your previous bulletin, a skill shortage. We are tackling that issue right now and when it comes to tax, we've made a focus on making sure that multinationals do pay their fair share of tax. We need to tackle the tax avoidance and that is a priority of ours. So our focus is on now. The things that we've got to fix the things that we've got to pay attention to. We're talking about tax cuts in two years’ time our focus is really on here and now.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Do you think that could be reversed though, even though it is two years away?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We've said we've got no plans to change it. They've been legislated but that's two years’ away. We need to focus on some of the challenges facing us right now. And that's exactly what we as a government are doing performing services and we will be able to very confidently transition those people to other services near where they live.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay, well on that point, the New South Wales Treasurer has called for an immediate increase to migration and the introduction of a low skilled visa to boost workers would you support that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We're having a broad conversation at our Jobs and Skills Summit that's coming up in weeks in which we will be talking about the policy settings around migration. We will be talking about how we train more people to enter the workforce. We will be discussing that, for example, in my stream, the areas to those living here in Australia now that feel that they can't get into the workforce. So we're going to have a good look across the board. Of course, states and territories have been invited to that conversation. Businesses will be part of that developing the solution. So I'm really looking forward to that. But the migration settings are certainly one of the strings in that migration aid in that Jobs Summit that we will be discussing very clearly in a few weeks.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Do you think the current rules are too obstructionist? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We will be looking at all the settings when it comes to migration and how we best get productivity moving. We'll also be looking at skills and training. I mean, one of the really concerning things is that the former government after nine years, hadn't really planned for the end of the pandemic, but they certainly hadn't planned for nine years around the skill shortages that we know in the care industry, for example, have been coming our way for some time. So we will be working across the board. We want to build consensus in this country and that's what we'll do as we work through our Jobs and Skills Summit.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Amanda Rishworth. Thank you for your time we'll talk to you soon.