House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID 19: Economy

2:05 pm

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on Australia's economic comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic and how the Morrison government will continue to support families and businesses by delivering on our national recovery plan to create economic growth and more jobs for Australians?

2:06 pm

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

[by video link] I thank the member for Bennelong for his question. I thank him and, through him, I thank all his constituents and Australians all around the country, as the Treasurer has just done, for their magnificent efforts over many months now during the pandemic. That has been the key ingredient of the comeback that is now certainly underway from the COVID-19 recession.

I know the member for Bennelong joins all government members in looking forward to Garth Hamilton, the newly-elected member for Groom, joining us soon. We congratulate him on his election.

That comeback is underway. That comeback is built on the strong public health response that has been put in place all around the country. The Governor of the Reserve Bank has said quite plainly that we have turned the corner. He has said that the recovery is underway. Indeed, the national account figures released today confirm the accuracy of what the Governor of the Reserve Bank has said and the Treasurer has already referred to—3.3 per cent growth in this September quarter.

While we and I'm sure all Australians welcome the news that the technically defined recession has concluded, we and all Australians know that we still have a very long way to go. There are still Australians that we need to get back into jobs. There are still Australian businesses that remain heavily impacted by COVID-19 and the restrictions, particularly the international travel restrictions, that are in place. The government continue to support and respond to those issues—whether it is the travel agents, which just this week we have announced particular measures for—because we understand and adapt. We're continuing to work with all Australians around the country so we can keep the comeback going and we can keep the recovery on its path. We're ensuring that Australians get back into jobs. We're continuing to save livelihoods and continuing to get Australians on the right track and where they want to be in 2021.

More Australians will get into jobs. That's what the OECD is saying. The economy will continue to grow. That's the optimistic outlook that has been upgraded for Australia. It is Australians who have responded to the strong measures that we as a government have put in place. They are the ones who've taken up those opportunities. They are the ones who, because of those supports, have been able to plan for their own future and for their own way of ensuring they come out of this COVID-19 recession and have more choices for them, their families and their communities.

It has also been a demonstration of the wisdom of the measures in the budget. We're driving investment in the Australian economy through the many tax incentives and initiatives outlined by the Treasurer this year. That economic recovery plan is working. It's working for all Australians. It has set us on the right path. It has made us stand out globally. We will continue on that path and we will continue to stand by Australians. (Time expired)

2:09 pm

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

My question is to the Treasurer and it refers to his and the Prime Minister's answers. Why hasn't the government mentioned the following comments by the Reserve Bank Governor today: 'These figures cannot hide the reality that a recovery will be uneven and bumpy and it will be drawn out. Some parts of the economy are doing quite well but others are in considerable difficulty.'

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

Obviously the member for Rankin wasn't watching my presentation on the national accounts; he was busy looking into the mirror. What I actually did say—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Members on my left!

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

The member for Rankin might want to listen. This is what I actually said on the national accounts—

Dr Chalmers interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Rankin! The Treasurer has the call.

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

This is what I said:

The road to recovery will be long, the road to recovery will be hard, the road to recovery will be bumpy—

but that the Australian economy has demonstrated its remarkable resilience. Maybe it's not just the Leader of the Opposition but also the member for Rankin who are the only ones across the country who are disappointed in seeing the biggest increase in the national accounts in the September quarter since 1976.

Our focus has been unequivocally on getting more people into jobs and helping to create more employment across the country. More than half a million jobs have been created over the last five months. We have seen the effective unemployment rate come down from a peak of 14.9 per cent to 7.4 per cent today. There is a long, hard and bumpy road ahead, but today's national accounts confirm that the economic recovery is underway, just as recent data in recent days has about house prices, consumer confidence and building sales. They all point in the same direction, and the Australian economy is gaining momentum.