House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Questions without Notice


2:22 pm

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer explain to the House how the Morrison government's effective economic leadership is helping to create a stronger and more secure economy as we embark on our comeback from the COVID-19 recession?

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

I thank the member for Herbert for serving in the Australian Defence Force and for being a champion on mental health issues, on veterans' issues and on infrastructure. More than 70,000 taxpayers in the member for Herbert's electorate are getting a tax cut as a result of policies supported by this side of the House. And around 4,000 businesses in Herbert have been benefiting from the JobKeeper program.

The member for Herbert, like other members on this side of the House, understands that the Australian economy has faced its biggest hit since the Great Depression. It saw a reduction in quarterly growth in June of seven per cent. This compared to a fall of around 12 per cent in New Zealand, 14 per cent in France and around 20 per cent in the United Kingdom. But the economic comeback is on!

Mr Husic interjecting

I'll take the interjection from the member for Chifley: we welcome his comeback too! But it is not as impressive as the Australian economy's comeback, because what we have seen is consumer sentiment up by 4.1 per cent this month and we've seen four consecutive months of consumer sentiment rising. Bill Evans, Westpac's chief economist, said that consumer sentiment has fully recovered from the COVID-19 recession.

Yesterday we saw business confidence up, and we've seen strong jobs growth. We've seen 80 per cent of the 1.3 million Australians who either lost their jobs or had their working hours reduced to zero at the start of the pandemic back at work, and 178,000 jobs were created last month. The effective unemployment rate has reduced from 14.9 per cent to 7.4 per cent. In the month of October, we saw two million fewer Australian workers on JobKeeper compared to the month of September. They may be workers in cafes in Sturt. They may be crane drivers in Lindsay or cakemakers in Reid. We have seen, right across the country, businesses graduating from JobKeeper and workers no longer needing that income support. We also saw, in the September quarter, 3.3 per cent GDP growth here in Australia, which means that, year on year, the Australian economy is performing better than France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. The economic comeback is on. Australians are getting back to work. It's still a tough road ahead, but the efforts and the policies of the Morrison government are making a difference for the better.

2:25 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 answer just now. If the economy's going so well, why are you cutting people's pay?

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

We are helping Australians get back into work—

Mr Gosling interjecting

and that—

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

The Treasurer will pause for a second. The member for Solomon will leave under standing order 94(a).

The member for Solomon then left the chamber.

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

The member for Rankin's assertion is simply not true. What we have seen across the country is that jobs are coming back in the face of the most significant economic shock since the Great Depression. The policies supported by those on this side of the House are not only creating jobs but also strengthening the Australian economy for the recovery ahead.

On budget night, 6 October, we announced tax cuts for more than 11½ million Australians. We announced the loss carry-back measure to give businesses working capital so that they can continue to keep their workers employed. We put in place immediate expensing provisions for businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion, to support investment across the country. We've also put in place a JobMaker hiring credit to support around 450,000 jobs. We've invested more money in transport infrastructure, water infrastructure and telecommunications infrastructure. We're backing apprentices—100,000 new apprentices across the economy—by providing a wage subsidy of up to 50 per cent.

It might be an inconvenient truth for the member for Rankin, but the reality across the Australian economy is that it is coming back. The recovery is underway. The member for Rankin may be entitled to his own opinions, but he's not entitled to his own facts.

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

The Treasurer will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business, on a point of order?

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

It's on direct relevance. The Treasurer should either defend the cut to take-home pay or drop the policy.

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

That was not a point of order, I say to the Manager of Opposition Business. The Treasurer has concluded his answer.