Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Australia is in the worst recession in almost a century. This week, the Prime Minister cut JobKeeper, cut JobSeeker and cut wages. This hurts families, households, businesses and workers. There are millions of them. Isn't this the worst possible time to cut the support that Australians need? Won't it make the Morrison recession longer and deeper?
Mr Speaker, he has a glass jaw and the fact is that he was smiling. Now, $42½ billion has already gone out through JobKeeper to Australian workers. More than 3½ million Australian workers and around one million Australian businesses are benefiting from JobKeeper. The honourable member knows that JobKeeper is a remarkable program. If he's not going to take my word for it, these are the words of the governor of the Reserve Bank: 'a remarkable program that is helping to save jobs'. As I've said to this House, Treasury has estimated that some 700,000 Australian jobs have been saved by JobKeeper. Without JobKeeper, the unemployment rate would be five percentage points higher than it is today.
The member for Rankin should listen to his own previous words. He said, in relation to JobKeeper, that we should be looking at a kind of tapering. He said that on ABC's The Business. Then the member for Grayndler said on the Today show that we will need a tapering off. He was asked: 'What does that mean?' He said: 'It will go down over time.' The member for Grayndler said about JobKeeper on the ABC's News Breakfast:
We obviously do need to shift away. These mechanisms won’t be in place forever, …
The member for Grayndler then went on John Laws radio and said of JobKeeper:
… we'll need some sort of a transition.
The member for Grayndler, the Leader of the Opposition, then had a doorstop and said in relation to JobKeeper: … we need a transition …
The reason I'm giving a little bit more latitude is that what makes it more difficult is when the first 15 seconds—I won't even say 'of the question' because it wasn't a question—was a series of declarations and statements before the question came. On the point the Leader of the Opposition is making, I want him to understand how long preambles lead to a broader answer to the question, and it's certainly something I will discuss with the House when we return after budget week. It enables the Treasurer to compare and contrast to an extent, but he's just about done that, I think.
Mr Speaker, the point I was simply making, and this was the subject of the question, is that the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Rankin have repeatedly called for a transition in the JobKeeper payment, and that is exactly what is occurring with an extension and expansion of this record spending program, at $101 billion.
JobKeeper has provided remarkable stories right around this country. It's helped keep people in work and helped keep businesses in business. It's a key part of our JobMaker plan and it's a key part of our economic recovery.