Scott Morrison – Budget push for care jobs to drive down unemployment rate
Treasury had forecast unemployment for April could rise to 6.2 per cent but preliminary weekly data for April shows no surge so far in the jobless rate, sources said.
The response to the royal commission into aged care will be a significant feature of the budget, with the government reportedly prepared to put more than $10 billion extra into the sector over the next four years.
When addressing The Australian Financial Review Business Summit in March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said such was the anticipated demand for workers in the care sector that changes would eventually have to be made to the visa system.
When you watch the Morrison government, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only real workers in this country are people who wear hard hats and high vis.
— Clare O’Neil, Opposition spokeswoman for senior Australians and aged care services
He suggested that once migration resumed, the temporary visa system would be adjusted to meet the needs in areas of burgeoning demand such as nursing and aged care, where not enough local workers could be found.
“We must re-look at the role that temporary visa holders play in meeting our economy’s workforce requirements, where Australians do not fill these jobs,” he said.
“Rather than taking Australians’ jobs, we need to instead appreciate how filling critical workforce shortages with temporary visa holders can actually create jobs elsewhere in the economy and, in particular, sustain growth and services in our regional economies.
“This issue will not go away after the pandemic.”
A government source said while the idea remained on the table, it would not be activated in the May budget because international borders were still closed and it was too early to predict when they would open and meaningful migration could resume.
The emphasis on job creation in the care sector will also help the government fulfil its pledge to deliver a female-friendly budget.
The October budget was broadly criticised for being blind to women by containing initiatives designed to bolster male-dominated sectors such as manufacturing and housing construction.
On Wednesday, the opposition spokeswoman for senior Australians and aged care services Clare O’Neil said that, in terms of job creation, the aged care sector should be viewed with the same enthusiasm as manufacturing, construction and mining.
“When you watch the Morrison government, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only real workers in this country are people who wear hard hats and high vis,” she said.
The budget will also contain measures aimed at attracting global talent in line with recommendations of a task force led by Peter Verwer.
In September last year, the government commissioned the former Property Council of Australia boss to lead a “strike team” charged with luring international businesses to Australia.
Its mission was to target exceptional talent in advanced manufacturing, financial services, fintech and health, as part of the effort to drive investment and job creation in the post-COVID-19 economy.