House debates

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions without Notice

JobKeeper Payment

2:31 pm

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

My question is to the Treasurer, and I refer to his earlier answer. How will the government's cuts to JobKeeper, cuts to wages, cuts to super and a budget riddled with rorts help the 100,000 people that the Treasury expects to lose their jobs after JobKeeper is cut?

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

Unfortunately for the member for Rankin, he doesn't listen closely enough to the Secretary of the Treasury's testimony nor to the RBA governor, because this is what the Secretary of the Treasury said with respect to the end of JobKeeper. He asked specifically about the Secretary of the Treasury. He said: 'I don't expect it to disturb the trajectory of the unemployment rate coming down and more employment being generated over the year.' That's a pretty clear statement.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank was asked the question at his speech at the National Press Club the other day. He was asked about the end of JobKeeper, and he says 'Am I disappointed the government is stopping the JobKeeper program?' His answer: 'No'. In fact, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has said:

Job vacancies, job ads and business hiring intentions have all rebounded sharply, which suggests continuing solid employment growth over the …

months ahead.

I also want to explain to the member for Rankin that the Treasury did a review of JobKeeper last year, and originally this program was for six months. The Morrison government extended it for another six months. The Treasury did a review in which it said about the JobKeeper program:

… JobKeeper has a number of features that create adverse incentives which may become more pronounced over time as the economy recovers. … it dampens incentives to work, it hampers labour mobility and the reallocation of workers to more productive roles, and it keeps businesses afloat that would not be viable without ongoing support.

That's a key quote from the Treasury in their advice to government, because we know that the economy is strengthening. We know that we have avoided 15 per cent unemployment, and unemployment today is at 6.6 per cent. We know that the participation rate is at a record high. We know business and consumer confidence is coming back to its pre-pandemic levels. We know in the housing market and motor vehicle sales it's strong. I've talked this week about the number of people who have come off JobKeeper, the payroll jobs data. Today, job ads are up for a ninth consecutive month. This all points to an economic recovery. That goes to the heart of what Treasury's advice to this government has been about JobKeeper ending. It's a temporary program.

The honourable member for Rankin has never seen a tax he doesn't want to impose and he's never seen a spending policy that he doesn't like. We, on the other hand, have very considered policies based on the medical advice.

Dr Chalmers interjecting

He's shouting again. No-one's listening. We're getting on with the job of creating jobs.