House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Australia

2:06 pm

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

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister explain to the House how Australia's unique response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession has positioned Australians to be more confident about their futures?

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

I thank the member for Ryan for his question. I thank him for his leadership in his local community as we move through this most difficult of years. At this time last year a global pandemic is something that none of us would have imagined over the course of this year. This would have been our experience all across the country, let alone all around the world. It is a global pandemic that has caused harm on a scale almost imaginable around the world. Here in Australia the impacts have been very significant, and that is what has always guided our response. It is a global pandemic but with very local effects, very local impacts and a very Australian response that is uniquely suited to Australia's circumstances. This response began with understanding the nature of this threat. Of course, there were the severe and significant health impacts of this pandemic. At the start of the pandemic there were many unknowns about how great that health risks were.

But not only did we understand that the pandemic would have significant health impacts; we knew that, equally, there would be significant economic impacts as well. A global pandemic had the very strong likelihood, even at those early stages when little was known, of leading to a pandemic recession. Indeed, that is what occurred. And so, from the start, we always said there were twin crises to address here, and that is what framed our response from the very beginning. We activated the pandemic plan right at the start of the year—a pandemic plan that had been prepared many years ago for these very purposes; a pandemic plan that called the pandemic before the World Health Organization had made that same call. We pulled together the National Security Committee immediately to guide the response. We drew on the expert advisers at both a state and federal level as we framed the responses for the months ahead. We drew on a world-class health system right around the country—a health system that has stood up to the challenge that has been placed upon this country by this pandemic.

We pulled together our federation in a way that has never been seen in this country, through the national cabinet. And that national cabinet, supported by a series of other working groups on everything from working on regional Australia to health impacts and the skills needs of Australians, working together as a federation, has come together on 30 occasions in just over seven months. We've used the strong balance sheet that we had built up coming into this crisis to extend the largest lifeline to livelihoods and lives this country has ever seen. This has served the country well, and this approach will continue to serve our country well.