Thursday, 25 March 2021
Matters of Public Importance
Not a day goes by when I do not field calls and emails from my constituents on a whole range of issues. From immigration to Centrelink, from foreign affairs to the state of our local parks and roads, as a member of parliament I hear it all. Of course, the past year has been dominated by COVID-19. Tragically, lives have been lost and livelihoods have been ruined across the world. In Australia it has been far from easy. But, fortunately, this government's strong management of the virus has limited the human toll compared to other developed nations around the world. The Morrison government is spending over $21 billion on COVID-19 specific health measures and securing over 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. This is in addition to investing in new sovereign vaccine manufacturing capability at CSL in Melbourne. A record $131.4 billion in public hospital funding has been guaranteed through a new five-year deal.
But we know that the pandemic has been not only a major health crisis but an economic crisis too. I have heard the calls and read the emails for help from individuals and businesses affected by COVID. When they asked, the Morrison government responded. When my constituents said they would need targeted income support, the Morrison government committed unprecedented support to save lives, cushion the blow and help Australians remain in jobs. JobKeeper supported over one million businesses and over 3.8 million jobs.
But that's not all. The cashflow boost has already provided $35 billion in payments helping over 800,000 small and medium sized businesses to stay afloat. The Morrison government is also acting in the interests of Australian apprentices and trainees by providing a 50 per cent wage subsidy supporting around 180,000 apprentices and trainees. This is in addition to 320,000 JobTrainer places for school leavers and jobseekers to upskill. But that's not all. Australians who want to get ahead and get a home are also being supported through the HomeBuilder program. This is supporting the residential construction industry, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
There are some Australians who have needed an additional hand-up during the difficult times, and this government has listened to them. The coronavirus supplement provided extra support for those on JobKeeper. While that supplement has now tapered off, as it was always going to, the Morrison government has provided a permanent increase to the rate of JobSeeker. This is the most substantial increase since the 1980s. Without JobKeeper and other measures to support our economy, the Treasury estimates that the unemployment rate would have been five percentage points higher. We must remember that the government was able to act in the interests of Australians thanks to our strong economic management before the pandemic. In the 2018-19 budget period, the Morrison government brought the budget back to balance for the first time in 11 years and maintained our AAA credit rating.
Phil Gilbert Motor Group employs 180 people across the inner west of Sydney, and it's in my electorate, in Croydon. In September of last year they graduated off JobKeeper, because the business picked up again, and have since employed 12 new apprentices, supported by the government's program. Edwina Gilbert recently hosted Minister Cash, the Prime Minister and I and showed us around one of her service centres. It was great to see firsthand how the Morrison government is listening and acting in the interests of all Australians,
The Morrison government is also investing in creating more STEM opportunities for Australian women. Up to 600 Australian women will be encouraged to study science, technology, engineering and maths while they are working as part of the expansion of the Morrison government's Women in Stem Cadetship and Advanced Apprenticeship Program. The program provides grants to higher education providers to deliver a range of qualifications that employees can take part time alongside their studies. The Australian people speak. Members of parliament listen. And the Morrison government acts.