House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Questions without Notice


2:31 pm

Photo of Julie CollinsJulie Collins (Franklin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Under this Prime Minister, Australia has entered its first recession in three decades. Can the Prime Minister confirm that women and younger workers have been most affected by this recession?

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

As I noted today with the Treasurer, it is indeed young people who have been most hard-hit. In the most recent May figures, today, I think that around 45 per cent or thereabouts of the falls we've seen in employment have been for younger people, and that 52 per cent of women are affected by those numbers.

The member makes reference to the recession. This recession has been brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It's the recession we weren't going to have and which we shouldn't have had to have. The last recession we had in this country was described by the Labor Treasurer at the time as 'the recession we had to have'. We should never have to have a recession. That was what the government had worked so hard to do over many years, and the biggest beneficiaries of the job creation that occurred under our government's policies leading into the pandemic were women.

Labour force participation for women had risen to an all-time high and the gender pay gap had fallen to an all-time low. It is true that women have been the most impacted of the two genders when it comes to employment in this country—that is true—and young people also. It is our great hope that as the economy continues to open—and, as I noted at the press conference today, the figures that were released today pre-dated the opening of the economy under the three-step plan agreed to by national cabinet—women and younger people should be the first to benefit, because it is the sectors of retail and hospitality which have been most affected, and they are the areas which we hope would be the most supported as the economy reopens.

This recession is a terrible business for all Australians. It is a recession that we didn't have to have and it was a recession that we weren't going to have. But as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, that is where we find ourselves. But, even in a recession, we find the Australian economy in a better position than almost all, if not every, other developed economy in the world. Now, that is no comfort to those Australians who have lost their jobs. But the truth is that if you're an Australian in Australia then you are in the best place in the world in the midst of this crisis.