sUBJECTS: Skills shortage; Minimum wage increase; Guardian class patrol boats.
JOURNALIST: Quickly, the half a million jobs now available in Australia, what’s the government doing to help businesses fill those shortages?
ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’re working on building skills for this country. That’s why we took to the last election a proposition of having free TAFE for those who are studying an area of skill shortage. I mean, what we’re seeing now is the result of almost a decade of defunding TAFE, from the former Liberal Government, and it’s left the country with a skills crisis, which people are feeling right now. And we’ve got to do everything we can to fix that.
JOURNALIST: There’s also a shortage, though, of labour and people. Will there be a rise in the number of skilled migrants coming into Australia?
ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Well, now the border is open, we want to get those flows back to a normal level. But the lesson that we have to learn from the pandemic, from the experience of having had the border shut, is that we were not training enough of our own people. That’s what happened over the last nine years. And that’s because the former Liberal Government cut billions of dollars out of our TAFE system. Now, we’re going to provide greater funding to TAFE. But we’re going to provide free TAFE for those who are studying in an area of skill shortage, and that will make a difference.
JOURNALIST: All right. And the minimum wage increase today, are you worried that that will push up inflation even further?
ACTING PRIME MINISTER: This is going to provide a much needed increase for our lowest paid workers, the better part of $2,000 every year. Most of those workers women, 2.8 million workers around the country. I think this is going to be a really welcome relief for those who have been doing it the most tough and those who have done such a fantastic job to get the country through the pandemic.
JOURNALIST: And on the Guardian patrol fleet. Faults found – three major faults found in those boats. What will Australia do to help those repairs?
ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Well, the former Liberal Government was sending broken boats to the Pacific. That’s the reality. I mean, they beat their chests, they talked a big game when it came to defense, but when it actually came to the doing, they repeatedly failed. And these patrol boats are just another example of that. We’re going to work through a program now of making sure that we fix them, because they’re critical boats for our Pacific partners. But the fact that the former government was sending broken boats out to the Pacific is a disgrace.