House debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Questions without Notice


2:00 pm

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

My question is to the Treasurer. Why has the Treasurer been congratulating himself on the economy when there are still 2.4 million unemployed or underemployed Australians and the jobless queues are growing?

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Rankin for that dorothy dixer! There were 178,000 jobs created last month—including jobs in the construction industry due to HomeBuilder, which the member for Rankin and the Labor Party didn't support. The reality is that 80 per cent of the 1.3 million Australians who either lost their jobs or saw their working hours reduced to zero at the start of this crisis are now back at work.

When it comes to JobKeeper, it has been an economic lifeline for the people of Australia. It has been a remarkable program. They are not my words; they are the words of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. There were 3.6 million Australians benefiting from JobKeeper in the month of September. From the ATO data for the month of October, there are 1.5 million Australians on JobKeeper. There are over two million fewer Australians on JobKeeper in October compared to September because the economic momentum, the economic recovery, is underway, because there is a comeback in the Australian economy. It is showing remarkable resilience.

Our AAA credit rating has been reaffirmed. The Governor of the Reserve Bank has said that the Morrison government is on the right track when it comes to fiscal policy. And we continue to undertake and to announce significant new initiatives, like the one today to support travel agents around the country and like the one on Sunday extending HomeBuilder for another three months.

In the budget there were more measures—immediate expensing for businesses with turnover up to $5 billion so that they can invest. Of course there was also the loss carry-back measure. There was support for apprentices right across the country. I can inform the member for Rankin that today consumer confidence is up by 2.9 per cent. It has now been up 12 of the last 13 weeks. We have also seen strong building approval numbers, strong house price numbers and business confidence coming back.

The member for Rankin asked me why we are celebrating the fact that people are back in work. It is because we on this side of the House stand for jobs—jobs, jobs and more jobs. That is what the Morrison government is doing and that is what is occurring across the economy as we are coming back from the biggest hit in over a century.

2:03 pm

Photo of Lucy WicksLucy Wicks (Robertson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the Morrison government's economic recovery plan to drive our comeback from the COVID-19 recession and how this plan is backing Australian workers and businesses to get and create more jobs?

2:04 pm

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

[by video link] I thank the member for Robertson for her question. You have just heard from the Treasurer very eloquently the significant steps we're making in the economic comeback from the COVID-19 recession. But today is a very special day. A very important milestone has been reached in this comeback from the COVID-19 recession. Today is the day when the borders are tumbling down. Australia was not built for borders, and I welcome the announcements that have been made and the initiation of the opening up of those borders, whether it's between Queensland and New South Wales or, indeed, the announcement by the Western Australian Premier, who I spoke to earlier today, that Western Australian borders will also be open to those in New South Wales and other places.

This is an important part of the comeback. We said we would work to get Australia open by Christmas and, on the record of the achievement so far, we are well and truly on that path. So I thank the premiers and the chief ministers for the way we've worked together patiently. There have been a few disagreements, but the outcome is what matters, and that outcome is an Australia that is opening safely. The challenge now is to remain safely open. This is important to opening businesses. This is important to opening up more job opportunities. The work that has been done has been underpinned by a confidence in a public health response that has been put in place; working together at state, territory and federal levels; and not just treasurers working together but health ministers working together. I acknowledge all of those who have been working, to that end, to get the confidence to the point where we are today, which puts Australia in stark contrast to so many other countries around the world.

The results of this comeback are there to see. The results of that comeback, as the Treasurer said, are some 80 per cent of jobs and lost hours restored and 75 per cent on the figures of measured employment, and that is something we welcome—648,000 measured employment jobs coming back into the economy. The effective unemployment rate, which takes into account the people who have had to leave the labour force or have their hours reduced to zero, has fallen from almost 15 per cent to 7.4 per cent and continues to fall—a strong outcome, in the labour market, in the face of the biggest and most significant impact to our jobs in this country since the Great Depression.

We have seen more than two million Australians graduate off JobKeeper in the recent months alone—the JobKeeper program has been a lifeline, and it has now proved to be a springboard for those businesses and those Australians now able to be supported by businesses, in their own right, without the need for taxpayer assistance. Business and consumer confidence has returned to pre-COVID levels and private dwelling approvals have reached a 20-year high, all of this demonstrating that a comeback is on, but we know there is a lot more to go. The figures are encouraging but there is more support and there is more standing by Australians needed, and we will do that. (Time expired)