Thursday, 25 March 2021
Matters of Public Importance
Reading today's MPI I can't help but feel that the Labor Party have very short memories. Before I go there, I acknowledge there are so many issues across the Australian experience where there is much work to be done, but that is why I am here—to work to improve this great nation of ours. That's why we're all here. It's with great humility that I approach my day's labours in the House. It's with great humility that I accept the charge of leading my community in this House. We all do.
Australia is a textbook case on how to recover from a global pandemic, how to keep people safe and how to create a safety net for those who are vulnerable. The theme of the last year has been that we are all in this together. But today the Labor Party have shown that they are not. They seek to condemn a government that's held tight the line between pandemic and chaos. They've forgotten the challenges Australia has faced. They've forgotten about keeping people safe. They've forgotten about how hard it can be to rebuild our community and to rebuild our economy. They have short memories.
Australia's economic comeback is well underway. The global pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges this country has faced this century. The potential of this nation to face double-digit unemployment was real. That chaos was upon us. The wolf was at the door. Today we should be acknowledging the hard work of the Australian people in preventing that. We should be acknowledging the Australian government for listening to the Australian people and acting in the best interests of the people that we serve. There is much to do, but this government has shown its ability to work for the people of Australia and to be the government that they need in a time of crisis.
As we sit here today, out in the real world many sectors of our economy are already bouncing back. This is evidenced by Australia's economic growth of 3.1 per cent in the December quarter, which followed a 3.4 per cent rise in September. Our nation has turned the corner, and we should be very, very proud of our economic recovery. We should acknowledge the unprecedented turnaround as, for the first time in our nation's history, we have seen two consecutive quarters of economic growth more than three per cent. That's a significant landmark in Australia's history. How good is it, too, that the evidence shows the real economy has recovered around 85 per cent of the fall since the start of the pandemic? Australians are returning to work because of our economic turnaround. This is a very, very good thing. Ninety-four per cent of the 1.3 million Australians who lost their jobs or who saw their working hours reduced to zero are now back at work.
I want to place on the record the thanks from my community to the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Minister for Health and Aged Care and the whole Morrison government for their work over the past 12 months in keeping Australia safe. I extend that thanks to the premiers for working hard to keep their states safe too through working together under the new national cabinet.
In our Toowoomba region the evidence of our recovery is being felt on the ground, with a real sense of confidence and optimism for our future. Last week I visited Homestyle Bake in Toowoomba, a locally owned and operated bakery which has flourished in our region for 32 years. The directors of Homestyle Bake are about to undertake a significant investment in their Harristown factory by upgrading their bread line. This investment will double their output and unlock new business opportunities for the future—an investment they simply would not be making if they did not feel confident of our economic recovery.
It's a recovery that's been carefully built through our COVID-19 economic support measures, like JobKeeper, which supported 4,700 businesses in my region through the turbulence of 2020. The evidence shows that local businesses are starting to employ again and starting to grow again. I turn again to the Finch Cafe, which is now opening a second store, only months into our recovery. This is fantastic news. Our Toowoomba region has seen 846 apprentices registered through the Morrison government's wage subsidy program. These are young people entering the workforce at a crucial time in their lives, making sure that they set themselves up for a career. This is fantastic news for our region, and this is evidence that local employers are feeling confident enough to expand their teams, to invest time in the young people of our region and grow the skills pipeline in our region for important future projects like Inland Rail. Many of these apprenticeships will be in the construction sector which is going gangbusters in the Toowoomba region off the back of our HomeBuilder scheme, which has done so much for our region and which has been so well received by Toowoomba's construction industry.