Thursday, 14 May 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. The number of people employed in Australia fell by 600,000 in April. This followed the Prime Minister's decision to deny a wage subsidy for casual workers, arts and entertainment workers, and workers in the university and local government sectors. Aren't more Australians out of work today because the Prime Minister deliberately excluded them from the JobKeeper wage subsidy?
It really doesn't take long. The truth is that six million Australians are benefiting from a JobKeeper program that is being shouldered by taxpayers to the tune of more than $20 billion a month. And on top of that there is the expansion of the jobseeker program, with the effective doubling of the jobseeker payment, which has seen almost 1.2 million additional Australians being able to get that additional payment with the COVID supplement. Those almost 1.2 million claims were processed by Services Australia in a period of about six to seven weeks—a set of claims which would normally be done over a two-year period. The government responded to the anticipated blow that would come from the COVID-19 crisis to Australia. This day—an incredibly difficult day for Australians, with almost 600,000 jobs lost in just one month—was a day that this government anticipated. We moved quickly and acted to ensure that both the JobKeeper and the jobseeker programs would cushion the blow, as a result of the decisions that we took as a government. Australians can continue to rely on that support from our government, because we ensured that we put Australia in a place where, when this crisis hit—
The point of order goes to relevance. The question was about whether there would be fewer people unemployed today if the Prime Minister hadn't excluded them from the JobKeeper program.
The Australian people can count on this government to be there for them right here, right now. And we are there for them right now. Six million Australians today are getting support through the JobKeeper program. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are keeping them in jobs because of a program which is unprecedented in scale and in reach across our economy, supported by the social safety net that is available through the jobseeker program, which was extended and enlarged to encompass those who would need it. Had this government not done that, and done it from a position of fiscal strength by bringing the budget back into balance, and ensuring—
Ms Ryan interjecting—
that we could act in this time. We have been there for Australians. We will be there for Australians, because the government knows how to manage money to ensure that those who are in deep need at the moment are in a position to receive that support, owing to the great generosity of Australians.