02 September 2022

I acknowledge, as I think all of the speakers have, the Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people, the elders, customs and traditions.

And I'm proud that First Nations ideas have been such a central part of what we've been discussing the last couple of days.

Day two closing remarks, Jobs and Skills Summit, Parliament House, Canberra


I acknowledge, as I think all of the speakers have, the Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people, the elders, customs and traditions. And I'm proud that First Nations ideas have been such a central part of what we've been discussing the last couple of days. My job before you this afternoon, in addition to inviting the Prime Minister to wrap up the proceedings, I have two other tasks. First of all, to thank you. And secondly, to run through the announcements, the outcomes, and the further work that the Albanese Government is preparing to undertake with you, in the aftermath of what has been really a tremendously successful conversation in the last two days. So in thanking you, I wanted to thank you for showing what is possible, when we tap into the best collaborative instincts of the Australian people. I want to thank you for your ideas, your ingenuity, your candor, your commitment, and the really quite remarkable enthusiasm that you have shown in this search that we've all been on, for consensus and common ground. I wanted to thank you for demonstrating our country's capacity to come together when we need to, to find that common ground and a common cause, and for the common good. And when it comes to the outcomes of this Jobs and Skills Summit, I wanted to thank you in particular, for exceeding even our most optimistic expectations ‑ and I really mean that.

We had relatively high hopes for this Jobs and Skills Summit. We tried to keep our expectations in check. But we've detected I think, haven't we Prime Minister, around this country, certainly the last few months, but before that, as well, a genuine hunger for some real talk about our economic challenges, and a genuine appetite to see what we might be able to achieve if we work together. And in doing so, all of you here today, indeed, everyone who's participated in more than 100 workshops, and many summits and consultations around Australia in the lead up to yesterday and today, you have genuinely exceeded even our most optimistic expectations for what we might be able to advance together. And I want to tell you how, that the way that is most obvious to me as I go through the draft of the outcomes document from this conversation. And I want to let you in on something. When I was working with these colleagues here and the colleagues from throughout our team led by the Prime Minister, we were trying to make sure that at the end of these two days, that we might have had at least a handful of concrete outcomes. In our best version of things, we thought it would be great to have perhaps 10, or a dozen outcomes. And I am so incredibly pleased and incredibly proud to tell you that what we will announce today is 36 concrete outcomes, which are a consequence of what you have told us, either from these lecterns and from these microphones, or in conversations around this Jobs and Skills Summit, or the ideas that you have brought from every corner of Australia, and every part of our economy. There are 36 concrete steps that the Government intends to take, with your help, consulting with you in an ongoing way, as an outcome of this Jobs and Skills Summit. And so one of the consequences of that, and this is where you'll breathe a sigh of relief, was that I was hoping to read out all of the outcomes that we've got before us, but I'm proposing not to do that. Instead, we will circulate quite a detailed document, we'll make that available not just to everybody here, but to everybody around Australia and beyond, who wants to look at that document.

There's 36 concrete outcomes, steps that we think that we can take this year, more or less immediately. And then there's about the same number of areas that we have identified for further work. So 36 immediately this year, and around the same number for further work. And that is in addition to some of the policies, which are incredibly relevant to the issues that have been raised, that we took to the election or have announced subsequently, as well. And I know that the Prime Minister will want to speak about some of these outcomes in slightly more detail. So let me just gallop through some of the outcomes that we are announcing today, or indeed that the Prime Minister announced yesterday. The first of course, is that billion dollars in joint federal‑state funding for fee free TAFE in 2023, and the accelerated delivery of the 465,000 fee free TAFE places.

There will be, and the Prime Minister will talk about this in more detail than I will, there will be recognition that in order to get more older Australian workers into the workforce, that we need to make that easier by relaxing the various work tests, and we will make it clear how we intend to do that. And I know the Prime Minister wants to talk about that shortly. We will make it possible for $575 million in the national housing infrastructure facility to invest in affordable housing, by attracting financing from super funds and other sources of private capital. So there's an important step there on social and affordable housing. We will modernise our workplace relations laws, including to make bargaining accessible for all workers and businesses. We will amend the Fair Work Act to strengthen access to flexible working arrangements, make unpaid parental leave more flexible, and strengthen protection for workers against discrimination and harassment. We will improve access to jobs and training pathways for women, First Nations, regional Australians, and culturally and linguistically diverse people, including equity targets for training places. There will be 1,000 digital apprenticeships in the Australian Public Service. Along these lines and other measures to reduce barriers to employment as well. We will increase, as Clare said earlier, the permanent migration program ceiling to 195,000 in 2022‑23 to help ease widespread critical workforce shortages. We will extend visas and relax work restrictions on international students to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour. And we will provide additional funding to resolve the visa backlog, that a number of you have raised, in the course of the conversations as well. And so that gives you a bit of a sense of the level of ambition. Those are examples only a small amount of the 36 concrete steps that we propose to take. Now there's something that won't be listed in the outcomes document that I think deserves our acknowledgement, if not our celebration. I think we have shown together, all of us, that we can do politics and policy discussion, and debate better than it has been done before. We do have a fresh approach to problem solving that I think our country has been crying out for. And that's what we wanted this Summit to be about.That is, as I said at the opening, what this Prime Minister and his leadership is all about, and it's what he's made his Government all about.

But obviously, we cannot do all of these things that we seek to do on our own. I mentioned the state premiers and chief and territory chief ministers yesterday, wanted to acknowledge as well, Linda and her colleagues and local government right around Australia ‑ massive employers in their own right. But also when it comes to so many things of the things that we want to achieve together, an important part of what we're trying to do. I want to acknowledge all of the industries here and some got discussed more than others, and that's inevitable. In a conversation of just two days, so many industries were identified. And I was talking to Anna Bligh, as well, about the finance industry, where so many of these challenges come together too. And so many of the industries that you have raised, that you represent, I wanted to thank you for providing all of that input as well. This is, I think, the beginning of a new era of cooperation and consensus. And our task now is to take this moment, take this momentum, and to build something bigger on it, to build change that lasts, that bigger, stronger, broader, more inclusive, more sustainable economy that we desperately want for Australians, so that more of the opportunities that are created by so many of you and by our country, can be reached for and reached by more and more Australians, in every single part of this country. I mentioned before that I wanted to do some thank‑yous and I thanked Helen. And I want to thank all of the facilitators of all of the sessions. All of the speakers, of course, all of you who participated in those conversations and everyone who participated in the weeks and months leading up to the beginning of proceedings yesterday.

I also wanted to thank a group of people who don't often get enough thanks. I wanted to thank all of the staff that have made what we've achieved at this Jobs and Skills Summit possible. I, of course, want to begin by thanking all of the Parliament House staff, and everybody who has worked on the event itself. And in addition to that, I wanted to shout out the staff, the advisers, the teams, in my office and in the Treasury, in the offices of my ministerial colleagues and in their departments as well. And if you'll forgive me for a moment to single out one person, which breaks all of the rules of politics, I'm aware of that. But I wondered if you wouldn't mind putting your hands together for Claudia Crawford and the team that she so ably leads. And many of you have seen now, in the last two days, what I've seen for the last 15 years or so. And that's just not Claudia's remarkable intellect, but her extraordinary patience as well. We're grateful for that, and I know that she would want me to say, and I want to say, that the team that she leads is really quite a remarkable team as well. My ministerial staff, all of the staff and the PMO, and the ministerial offices, the staff in the Treasury, and all of the departmental officials as well. I wanted to make sure that they have been appropriately acknowledged. I want to thank the coordinating ministers who have done really an incredible job. I was thinking about Amanda there, chairing three sessions in a row at the end, thinking about all of the work that colleagues have done in the ministry. Beyond that, I've got a number of colleagues here from our parliamentary team, very valued colleagues. And I wanted to acknowledge them, as well. Many of them have made massive contributions to what we are announcing today.

Finally, I wanted to thank the Prime Minister. And I wanted to thank the Prime Minister for not just the really quite extraordinary and genuine trust that he places in his team, in his cabinet in his ministry, his parliamentary team. I wanted to thank him for the trust that he places in his country. The belief that he has in this country, that humility, and the respects with which he goes about his job, which recognises that not every good idea has to come from him or from his office, that the best ideas in this country come from the ground up ‑ and they come to Canberra, not always necessarily from Canberra. And so I wanted to, in introducing the Prime Minister to wrap things up formally, I wanted to say to him that I think this Summit was a success in large measure, because it reflects your natural instincts. To cooperate with people, to build coalitions, to find common ground. And as I said, to do that with a degree of trust, and respect, and humility as well. So from me, and I think from everybody here, I wanted to thank you for all of that and I wondered if you wouldn't mind putting your hands together for the Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese.