TRANSCRIPT – 4BC Breakfast with Neil Breen

TRANSCRIPT – 4BC Breakfast with Neil Breen
Monday 14 March 2022

Subjects: Attracting tradies to Queensland


NEIL BREEN: One set of workers that are in high demand here in Brisbane are tradies, we know that – there’s a lot of work to be done. They were in demand before the flood, with the building boom going on. The state government wants tradies from around the country to move to Queensland. The premier will discuss the plan on how to get tradies here with her cabinet today, but it’s not as clear cut as it seems. Firstly, a tradie in Sydney can make a lot more money. That’s just a fact. Secondly, rents here aren’t so good, there’s a housing crisis going on, are we just going to get all these people to move here?

Anyway, Amanda Stoker is the Federal Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations, Women and to the Attorney General. She's on the line. Good morning to you, Assistant Minister.

AMANDA STOKER: Good morning. How are you?

NEIL BREEN: I'm really well, thanks. Okay, so the Queensland Premier says, we'll get tradies to move to Queensland. It's not that easy.

AMANDA STOKER: Well look, it's not. There's lots of complexities in anyone uprooting their life to come to Queensland. But if the Premier's really serious about more tradies being able to practice in Queensland, we've got to ask an important question here. And that is: why is it that, when every other state and territory in this country, last year committed to mutually recognise the skills of people in lots of different occupations, Queensland was the only state that held out.

So we led, as the Federal Government, the Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupation Registrations. Now that's a big way of saying we'll recognise your qualification as a plumber, or an electrician, or a radiologist, or a real estate agent. If you're qualified in New South Wales, or WA, or Tassie, we'll recognise that as meeting Queensland's standards here.

Every other state got on board. And in doing so, of course, it makes it cheaper, easier, no paperwork required to be able to work right across the country. But, Queensland held out. They offered no good reason for doing so. And so, while everyone else in the country is able to scoop up skills across borders to deal with situations – whether it be a natural disaster, or indeed, whether it's just about seamlessly providing services across jurisdictions, everyone else got on board. But, as usual, Queensland held out and didn't offer a sensible reason why.

NEIL BREEN: Is it- Is this a union driven thing? Like, what would be the reason behind it?

AMANDA STOKER: Look, I think you'd have to ask Queensland. But usually that's the case in Queensland. It's usually about one of two things: maintaining union control over every aspect of the economy and government; or, with this Palaszczuk Labor Government, it's often also about making sure they've got more opportunities to extract more cash out of Queenslander, because of course, their budget situations always a terrible mess.

NEIL BREEN: So what, more cash as in the tradies who come here would have to go through the red tape and pay for it?

AMANDA STOKER: That's right. If you've got a licence already in New South Wales or Victoria, you've got to apply separately; pay another fee; send a whole lot of forms; prop up the careers of another bunch of public servants, in order to have the right to practice up here.

NEIL BREEN: Is it also to- The State Government in Queensland just seems to be combative with the Federal Government on any level, and it's driven along party lines. That's what it seems to be.

AMANDA STOKER: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

NEIL BREEN: Like even the emergency declaration. Now, my opinion is the Federal Government was late - your Government was too late to declare a national emergency in South East Queensland. But once you wanted to, Queensland said no, we don't need it. Because this stink just continues.

AMANDA STOKER: Look, everything we do with the Queensland Government is like pulling teeth. They're always out for a political point, they're always out to try and give their Labor colleagues in the Federal Parliament a leg up by trying to create problems, make it difficult, or try and kick us in the teeth.

Look, I get it – it's politics. But let's face it, it's not just about getting your mates a leg up at the next election. It's about serving the people that you are elected to help. And when you put the political points above the interests of Queenslanders, you've absolutely lost your way.

NEIL BREEN: Okay. Amanda Stoker, we'll see how it plays out today when she addresses it with Cabinet. Amanda Stoker is the Federal Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations, Women and the Attorney General. Thanks for your time this morning.

AMANDA STOKER: Good on you. Thanks.