Thursday, 4 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I have here an email from Andrew Burnes, CEO of Helloworld Travel, asking employees to accept pay cuts from the end of March when JobKeeper ends. Is this just the first round of Morrison pay cuts?
I haven't seen the correspondence to which the member refers and I'd be happy for him to provide it to me. As people in this place know, but, more importantly, as those around this country know, the JobKeeper program has been the game-changing program that has kept hundreds of thousands of Australians in work. In fact, it has saved 700,000 jobs. On top of that, as we have said from the outset, the JobKeeper program was proportionate, it was temporary and it was targeted to ensure that Australia came through the worst period of the pandemic. As we have transitioned the JobKeeper program from its very significant levels of uptake early in the pandemic, we have always recognised that we have been moving towards other forms of support—in particular, in terms of the travel agent sector, with some $128 million, as the minister reminds me, of direct support to travel agents, because we understood the very specific challenges that travel agents have faced. I thank all of my colleagues who, on behalf of those jobs and those small business people in their electorates, have raised those issues with me and with the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment at the time, now the Minister for Finance. We crafted a package to provide very direct support, and that has been our approach throughout this pandemic. Throughout this pandemic, our approach has been to understand where the need was and to target support to that, but to do so in a way that respected taxpayers' money and understood that these transitions would have to occur, because you cannot run the Australian economy on taxpayers' money forever.
Throughout the last year, during this pandemic, those opposite, the Labor Party, have had an each-way bet on the pandemic response. With one side of their mouths they say they're with us, and with the other side of their mouths they seek to undermine the effort. Our government has been consistent and honest with people and has delivered support that this country has never seen before. It has saved jobs. It has gotten Australians back into work. Some 90 per cent of the jobs that were lost throughout the COVID-19 recession have returned to the Australian economy. Our plans are getting people back into work. They're going to keep getting people back into work. It is a difficult time for Australians all around this country, and they know they have had our support.