Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on how the Morrison government's response to the effect of the coronavirus is focused on keeping Australians safe and increasing our resilience to the economic impacts of the outbreak?
I thank the member for Longman for his question. This is a global issue. Australia is not immune from the global health crisis of the coronavirus, but we have got ahead and we are staying ahead, and we are working together with everyone around this country who wants to work with us to achieve that task—and I thank state and territory governments. I also thank the four major banks who we asked to come to the nation's aid in passing on whatever rate cuts were provided by the Reserve Bank—which is part of the response that is being provided to this global health crisis and its economic impacts. So I thank the banks for following the lead of companies like Qantas and others to address the very real economic situation that we are facing.
But today's national accounts show that we have entered this crisis in a strengthening economic position, with through-the-year growth up from 1.8 per cent to 2.2 per cent in the December quarter. That is compared to G7 nations. Only the United States had slightly higher growth than Australia through the year to December. Indeed, in the December quarter we had the same growth as the United States and higher growth, by 0.5 per cent through the year, than the OECD average and two and a half times, or thereabouts, of what the average growth was in the OECD nations in the December quarter. The national wages bill is up by 5.1 per cent—the strongest growth in 7½ years—and average compensation per employee was at a growth rate which was the highest we've seen in five years.
Employment growth in Australia has been the real dividend of the economic reforms and the economic leadership of this government over now more than six years. The economic reforms and the economic leadership of this government delivered jobs growth twice the OECD average, which means that our government has been putting people into work. Australian households have been getting their balance sheets in order, and many years now they have ahead of their mortgage repayments held in those accounts—
Dr Chalmers interjecting—
The government has been getting its balance sheet in order after the disrepair it was left in by those we inherited it from, which means that we can go into this very real challenge with a balance sheet which is stronger than it was otherwise going to be.
Dr Chalmers interjecting—
It is stronger than it has been in six years, in 10 years, as a result of the management of this government in repairing the financial balance sheet of this country to ensure we go into this crisis as strong as we possibly could and we can deliver the changes and deliver the responses that are targeted, that are measured and that will keep people in jobs and keep businesses in business, so that on the other side of this health crisis the Australian economy will bounce back stronger. And it will bounce back stronger because of the measures that this government is putting in place.