Thursday, 8 October 2020
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for her question—and the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services may wish to add to this answer. But the reason that the government have taken on the cost that we have in this budget is that we have responded to the biggest global recession and global pandemic that this globe has seen for a century—in terms of the recession, the worst since the Great Depression.
Our response to that was to double the social security safety net—double it. The JobSeeker allowance was to double it. The response was to increase, in separate payments of $750 on two occasions, the payments that were made to all welfare beneficiaries. Our response was to keep people in jobs, through the JobKeeper program, at a cost of some $101 billion, and that prevented some 700,000 additional Australians becoming unemployed in this country. That is what the money has been spent on. The money has been spent on providing cash flow support to businesses to keep people in jobs. It has been spent on boosting the health response of our country to this pandemic.
And the result of these measures throughout the pandemic is that, as tough as this global crisis has been as it's impacted on Australia, Australians can stand here today knowing that around the world there is South Korea, there is Finland, there is Norway, there is the economy of Taiwan and there is Australia who have been able to cushion the blow, both the health effects and the economic effects, of this pandemic better than any other nations in the world today. Now, that is an extraordinary achievement by Australians—their resilience and their determination to push through very difficult times, to follow the health advice, to look out for each other, to make sacrifices in their own lives, and most particularly, most recently, down in Melbourne, where it's been extremely tough. But what this government has done right from the outset, because we came into this from a position of strength, is seek to provide every support we possibly could, and we've done it in a way that has outperformed most countries in the world today. So, while it might be tough in Australia and we know that, I'm sure all Australians would rather be here than anywhere else in the world today.