House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Benefits and Payments

2:31 pm

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that fewer Australians than expected are receiving the wage subsidy while more Australians than expected have signed up for jobseeker?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Only the Labor Party would lament the fact that fewer people needed an economic support program than was estimated. Only the Labor Party would be disappointed that the need was actually less than what was estimated. That tells you a lot about how the Labor Party have been engaging with this issue of the COVID-19 response. I can tell you, Mr Speaker, I'm very pleased that fewer people have had to draw down on that program. I'm very pleased. I'm also very pleased that jobseeker has been there for those who need it, some 1.6 million Australians who have needed that program, because jobseeker has been put in place—

Dr Chalmers interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Member for Rankin!

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Look, he is young and enthusiastic, Mr Speaker, very enthusiastic, but what he might care to do is listen to the advice which says that when there are fewer people who need economic support that's a good thing. It is a tribute and it is a commendation of the work that businesses have been doing to bring us through the COVID-19 crisis. They have been holding onto staff wherever they can. They have been supported by JobKeeper wherever they can be. For those who are unable to be supported by JobKeeper then jobseeker has been there for them. That's what jobseeker has demonstrated.

Again, I am not going to demonise jobseeker. Those opposite seem to think that jobseeker is a second prize. That's not my view. Jobseeker is there to help people who have lost their employment. The Labor Party want to demonise jobseeker and say to those people that if they're on jobseeker they are on second-best, and that they should somehow be stigmatised because they are on jobseeker. That is what the Labor Party are saying right now. It is a shameful indictment on them that they would seek to do that to people who are on jobseeker.

We have done both of these programs to help Australians through one of the greatest times of need. The good news is that, as compared to countries all around the world, the economic response that this government has put in place means that we are doing better than almost any other developed economy around the world today. That is something I know Australians would be pleased about. The only ones who would be disappointed about that result sit on the opposition benches, because all they can see in these things is an opportunity for themselves politically. They say they support these measures, but from day 1 they have sought to undermine them, and for that they should be ashamed of themselves.