Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Questions without Notice
RG (—) (): I thank the member for Wentworth for his question and acknowledge that he has been an outstanding diplomat for our nation and an outstanding member for Wentworth. It's important to understand that last night's budget demonstrated that the economy is growing—that growth is higher, unemployment is lower and wages are strengthening. When you consider how far our country has come over the last two years, it is remarkable. At the peak of the crisis, Treasury thought the unemployment rate could be as high as 15 per cent, and the Labor Party set us a task. In their words—in the member for Rankin's own words—the single biggest test for the Morrison government's management of the pandemic would be what happens to unemployment and jobs. That was the test the Labor Party set for us, and I can confirm to the House that the unemployment rate today in Australia is the equal lowest in 48 years, at four per cent. Female unemployment is at its lowest level since 1974. When those opposite came to government, the unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent, and when they left government it was 5.7 per cent.
As a result of a stronger economy, we are seeing revenue upgrades which we are banking to the bottom line, with an improvement of more than $100 billion to the bottom line, three-quarters of which has been driven by a stronger labour market. Unlike those opposite, we haven't baked into the budget commodity price assumptions at unrealistically high levels. That's what Labor did. We have kept commodity price consumptions at a conservative level, so that we didn't put expenditure across those commodity prices. We've seen the deficit, as a share of the economy, more than halve over the forward estimates, and then more than halve again by the end of the medium term. This is a responsible budget; there are temporary and targeted measures to ease cost of living and there are measures to improve the productivity and the growth of the economy and create more jobs, but there is also a significant and material improvement to the budget bottom line—the product of an economic plan that is working, that is seeing unemployment come down and seeing more people in work paying tax and less people on welfare requiring payments. That is a sign of a strong economy.