House debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Questions without Notice


2:13 pm

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology and the Future of Work) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, why are you congratulating yourself on the economy when your budget shows that unemployment won't return to pre-COVID levels for more than four years?

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

It might be known to the member for Hotham that Australia has been hit by a once-in-a-century pandemic. To put it in perspective for the member for Hotham, during the GFC the global economy contracted by 0.1 per cent. It's the IMF's forecast that the global economy will contract this year by 4.4 per cent. With 1.3 million Australians who either lost their jobs or saw their working hours reduced to zero early on in this pandemic, it has been a huge task for the Australian economy to start the recovery. That recovery is now underway, with 80 per cent of those people back at work.

The fact that 178,000 jobs were created last month goes to the heart of the resilience of the Australian economy. The effective unemployment rate has fallen from 9.3 per cent to 7.4 per cent. In the state of Victoria—the member for Hotham's own state—we saw the effective unemployment rate rise to the highest in the country at 14 per cent, and it is now down to 10½ per cent. Today's economic data—showing that consumer confidence was up for 12 of the last 13 weeks, that house prices are up and that building approvals are up—all serve as extra indicators to show that the comeback is on. It might be uncomfortable for those opposite who like to talk down the Australian economy. At every opportunity, they are looking to talk down the Australian economy. Yesterday, when the JobKeeper numbers came out for the month of October, the member for Rankin came out and said, 'That's entirely unsurprising.' But, only two weeks prior, he was saying that the decisions by the Morrison government were going to lead to a deeper recession. He can't have it both ways. He can't be talking about a deeper recession and then saying that the strong comeback is entirely unsurprising. The former Treasurer, Joe Hockey, was part of a government that helped to see jobs created. Our Prime Minister, who was formerly the Treasurer, has helped put the bricks in place to see the Australian economy become the resilient economy it is. And, right now, we're saying to the Australian people that we have their backs—that we had their backs at the start of this crisis, through this crisis and to the end of this crisis.