Thursday, 3 June 2021
Matters of Public Importance
Deputy Speaker, crack a smile about that. The fact that the unemployment rate has fallen from 7½ per cent to 5.5 per cent and is going to fall to below five per cent by the Treasury projections is great news.
Also, there are the national accounts throughout this week. The Australian economy is the first economy out of any G7 nation to be bigger than what it was pre-pandemic. Our economy is now bigger than what it was before the pandemic broke out and everyone went into a COVID led recession. We have more jobs in our economy than what we had pre-pandemic before the global recession hit. We are up by 0.8 per cent, so our economy is 0.8 per cent bigger. Here are some relative international statistics: the US is down by 0.9 per cent, Canada is down by 1.7 per cent, Japan down by 2.3 per cent, France is down by 4.7 per cent, Germany is down by five per cent, Italy is down by 6.4 per cent and the UK is down by 8.7 per cent. The whole of Australia celebrates that except for those opposite. They don't talk about it and they don't mention it, because nothing of a celebration or good news can come out of their mouths.
Because the economy's doing so well, we've also seen business confidence and consumer confidence up. Why have we done really well economically? One of the reasons—and God bless the Australian people in adhering to social hygiene, social distancing and all the health restrictions that were put on them—is that we as a government know that eight out of ten jobs are in the private sector, so we needed and we wanted the private sector to do well and to get to the other side of this pandemic as best it could. JobKeeper has been very well documented. JobKeeper was a very important economic stimulus that took us through a whole 12-month period when businesses had to close down or were restricted in what they did. That was a very important part of it. It kept the relationship between an employee and employer together and obviously when the economy took off again that relationship was still there. We're providing tax relief to over 10 million Australians. A tax cut is the same as a wage increase, so, effectively, the Australian people have had a wage increase.
Someone from our side of politics would mention this every day this chamber sits, and that's the instant tax write-off. I know the Deputy Prime Minister spoke about it in question time today. This is that scheme where businesses are investing in capital in their business—if you're a cafe, you go out and invest in a new freezer, and, if you're a tradie, you go out and buy a new ute. We've extended it to big business and some of the big capital programs that they have. You could instantly write that off. Anecdotally, if any of us walk around the small-business communities in our own regions, you would not have a small business who doesn't mention that one to you and know the importance of that. We had the carry-loss-forward provisions as well, which were really important to improving both small and large businesses' cash flows. Cash flow is exceptionally important through this period, which is why our unemployment rate has fallen and why we economically are doing very well.
We also have on the other side of the ledger realised, besides JobKeeper, the importance of government spending in a whole array of areas. In the budget we saw some really big commitments to some really important areas of our economy, which is the plan that we have and the plan that is working. There was the increased commitment to aged care. We saw in the royal commission that there were some vacuums in our aged-care system that needed to be filled and some shortcomings that we needed to help them fix. The investment in that is there. We talked about, as well, the $110 billion dollar infrastructure project that we have planned over the next 10 years—really important on a whole array of fronts. If I had time I would go through a whole array of them in just my own region. There are lots of others, but I am going to run out of time. There's increased funding for mental health; increased funding for apprenticeships and traineeships; increased funding for clean energy projects; increased funding for the NDIS; and increased funding for child care. So there's lots of spending going on there.
We have seen also the vaccine rollout. There were disruptions to supply at the start of that from Europe, but we see the numbers are back and we are now hitting record numbers as hundreds of thousands of Australians are getting vaccinated every week. I believe there is no better place in the world to be right now on the health and economic fronts than Australia. (Time expired)