Monday, 23 March 2020
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for his question. The government has designed measures to support the situation in Australia. There are many different responses all around the country. We are seeking to do two things: first, ensure that we can keep businesses as viable as possible, particularly under the rather stringent conditions we're asking businesses to operate under; and, second, ensure that those who do have loss to their income, those who do lose their jobs, those who are stood down and those sole traders who can't earn what they did before can get access to a strengthened safety net to support them through the many months that are ahead.
There will be massive changes in our economy. We want to ensure that businesses can still be there on the other side so they can do two things: first, keep Australians employed for as long as possible; and, second, if they're unable to do that, be in a position to re-employ them on the other side. This is the approach the government is taking. This is also the advice that we've received from Treasury. The issues in the United Kingdom were considered. Our Treasury actually recommended against us taking those measures, and I think that was sound advice. The measures, as they are being designed in United Kingdom, require a complete redesign of delivery mechanisms which will take many months, and they aren't immune from the sorts of integrity issues that, sadly and inevitably, follow poorly designed measures. I trust and I hope they get it right.
The government are endeavouring to get the safety net to you if you find yourself in a position where you've lost income or lost your job or if you are a sole trader. And if we need to further enhance or strengthen these safety net provisions then we will. This is a safety net for all Australians. Whether you run a small business, whether you're a casual employee or whether you're an employee—permanent, part-time or whatever—we are seeking to strengthen the safety net for you and your family. It is not just the doubling, effectively, of the jobseeker payment but also the many other payments, whether it's family tax benefit, rental assistance or the many other supplements that exist within the automatic stabilisers of our system. We should have confidence that the social security system in Australia is one of the most targeted and most extensive anywhere in the world. It is built to ensure that when shocks hit like this, more and more Australians, particularly those who would be most vulnerable, will be supported. Whether you're on a higher wage or you're on a lower wage, if you find yourself in a position where you're no longer in a job, we want to give you that support and ensure that we can support you and your family through what will be a very difficult next six months at the very least.