House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Economy

2:20 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline to the House how the Morrison government's strong economic management and fiscal discipline is helping to make the Australian economy more resilient during the pandemic crisis while also continuing to provide the essential services that Australians rely on.

2:21 pm

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Ryan for his question and acknowledge his extensive experience in local government with the biggest local government of them all, Brisbane City Council, before coming to this place. We understand that Australians are doing it tough—doing it tough because we are going through a once-in-a-century pandemic that has seen business and consumer confidence reach record lows. We saw in the month of April 600,000 fewer people in the workforce than in the month prior.

But we are on the road back. Australia is on the road to economic recovery. Consumer confidence has picked up 90 per cent from its lows. After the announcement of JobKeeper, we had a record run of nine consecutive weeks where consumer confidence increased. Business confidence has picked up 70 per cent of its lows. We saw a record 25 point jump in business confidence recently, and in the March national accounts we saw a particularly strong result for mining investment, up 10.3 per cent through the year.

We have been singled out by international agencies for our strong economic performance. We talked recently about the OECD, who said that Australia's economic growth will contract by five per cent in this calendar year, but will grow by four per cent next calendar year. That is in comparison to New Zealand, who are going to see their economy contract, according to the OECD, by 8.9 per cent. For the United States it is by 7.3 per cent and for the United Kingdom by 11½ cent. The reason why we've been able to deliver a strong economic performance is because of the $260 billion of economic support that we've provided, like the cashflow boost, like the extended instant asset write-off and like the JobKeeper Program. The JobKeeper Program is supporting Lisa Stephens in her gym business in Indooroopilly, an F45 gym that she said she has been able to keep open because of the JobKeeper Program, supporting five staff in Indooroopilly with this gym. Hundreds of thousands of businesses right across the country are also benefitting millions of workers as a result of our JobKeeper Program.

This was only possible because of the strong economic position Australia had as we entered into this crisis, including balancing the budget for the first time in 11 years. That fiscal discipline gave us the financial firepower to respond. Now, there's no money tree.

Dr Chalmers interjecting

The member for Rankin would have you spend more and spend for longer, but there's no money tree. Government is there not as a limitless spender but as an enabler for small business throughout the country.