House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Employment

2:28 pm

Photo of Ian GoodenoughIan Goodenough (Moore, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister please update the House on what measures the Morrison government is taking to protect Australian jobs by working to avoid a second wave of COVID-19?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Moore, who knows that perhaps the most urgent and important issue which not just this parliament but parliaments around the world have faced in the last 30 years has been the response to COVID-19, a disease which has now reached over 8.3 million people, which has taken over 440,000 lives and which is accelerating in its spread around the world. He knows this because in Joondalup Hospital, a hospital for which he, along with the Attorney-General, fought for over $150 million in investment, they have been taking care of the sick and those from the Artania who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Against that background, Australia went into this crisis with a pandemic plan. It's a plan which has allowed us, despite the great challenges, to achieve a health outcome which is the envy of much of the world. It has meant that we have saved lives, and, in saving lives, we have been able to save jobs, protect jobs and protect livelihoods. What we have faced in Australia, as challenging and agonising as it is, is nothing compared with what we've seen with the health and employment outcomes in other parts of the world.

The quality of the containment process—the border closures; the testing program, with over 1.9 million tests done; the tracing program, now with over 6.35 million people having downloaded the COVIDSafe app; and the work that Australians have done in distancing—has given us the opportunity to plan that road out. And we're embarking on that road out. That has meant we've been able to release some of the most difficult social- and physical-distancing measures and that businesses have been able to open far earlier than anybody had anticipated. That means that people have been able to be employed.

This is raised with me each and every time I have the privilege of speaking with someone from overseas, because they see the human suffering in their countries and they see what has been avoided in Australia because of a plan which was created by the Prime Minister and by the team on the basis of the medical advice, and which was delivered in a way which has meant we're saving lives and protecting lives in Australia. But also, as a consequence of those health outcomes, we have given ourselves the best possible chance of avoiding a second wave and of creating those jobs.

Those jobs are being re-established every single day. But without the health outcomes we would never have been able to do that. So I want to thank our doctors, our nurses and our medical advisers. I want to thank all of the Australians who have done everything to save and protect the lives of others. We have more to do, but we're on that road out and we're saving lives and saving livelihoods. (Time expired)