Construction to replace mining as Australia's boom sector
The Federal Government expects to create thousands of jobs over the next six years through its new infrastructure growth package.
Treasurer Joe Hockey announced in last night's budget that the package will take the Government's total infrastructure investment to $50 billion by the end of the decade.
"Mining and resources represent about 10% of our economy but 2% of our employment. It has, however, done much of the heavy lifting over the [past] decade. So now we need to fire up the rest of the economy," he said.
"Over the next six years, the Government will help build new roads, rail, ports and airports. Our growth package will stimulate the construction sector and create thousands of jobs as the economy transitions from resource-led growth to broader-based growth."
In NSW, construction on the $11-billion WestConnex project, which will create 10,000 jobs, will start within 18 months, while in Melbourne, work on the $18-billion East West Link will kick off before Christmas and eventually create 6,000 new jobs, said Hockey.
"Billions of dollars of work will soon start on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing; the Perth Freight Link; the Midlands Highway upgrade in Tasmania and the North South Road Corridor project in Adelaide. This will create thousands of new jobs across our nation."
The Government will also provide funding over the next six years to create a $155 million growth fund to offset the withdrawal of vehicle manufacturers from SA and Victoria.
The growth fund will support new jobs, investment and economic growth when the vehicle manufacturers withdraw from those states in 2017.
Government targets workforce participation
The Government also unveiled new initiatives to improve workforce participation, including offering employers a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 for hiring full-time mature-age workers.
The scheme announced in last night's budget aims to provide scope for around 32,000 jobseekers to re-enter the workforce each year, and will apply to jobseekers over the age of 50 who have been on unemployment benefits or the Disability Support pension for six months.
Employers will receive $3,000 when they hire a full-time mature-age jobseeker, and an additional $3,000 if they stay at least 12 months, with two additional payments of $2,000 at the 18- and 24-month mark.
The Government also introduced a six-month waiting period for jobseekers under the age of 30 who apply for Newstart or Youth Allowance, in a bid to encourage greater participation in job search and employment service activities.
The six-month period will, however, be reduced for those who have already been working for significant periods. Affected jobseekers are also able to undertake further study and apply for the relevant subsidies.
The Government claims tightening access to unemployment benefits, along with its changes to family tax benefits and the newly-introduced Paid Parental Leave scheme, will encourage higher workforce participation.