House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Economy

2:08 pm

Garth Hamilton (Groom, 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 vaccination rollout will help chart our Australian way out of the COVID-19 recession through aiding our economic confidence and ensuring our recovery continues to gain momentum?

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

I thank the member for Groom for his question and acknowledge his extensive experience before coming to this place as an engineer on rail projects, water projects, infrastructure projects, including airport terminals, and mining projects and his strong support for the Inland Rail project.

Today the Australian economy got more good news. Fitch, the credit rating agency, has reaffirmed Australia's AAA credit rating. We are one of nine countries to have a AAA credit rating from the three leading credit rating agencies.

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

I say to the Treasurer: you weren't asked about this; you were asked about the vaccination program.

Honourable members interjecting

No. The question was: could he explain how the vaccine rollout will chart our way out of recession? So if he wants to answer a question—

Opposition members interjecting

Members on my left!

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

I want to make it very clear that in Fitch's statement today about the AAA credit rating they said that the vaccine rollout will 'support the domestic sentiment' and 'help ease risks'. That is what Fitch said today when they were talking about our AAA credit rating. When Fitch were talking about our AAA credit rating and how the vaccine will help ease the risks and help support the sentiment, they said that it will continue Australia's economic momentum—economic momentum that has seen the labour market recover. Unemployment has fallen to 6.4 per cent and there are, as the Prime Minister just said, 59,000 new jobs. We've seen 94 per cent of the 1.3 million Australians who either lost their jobs or saw their working hours reduced to zero now back at work. We have seen business and consumer confidence get back to their pre-pandemic levels. We've seen our housing market prove to be remarkably resilient, with prices getting back up to where they were, as well as strong starts from new homebuyers.

This will all be supported as the vaccine is rolled out across the economy. It's going to give those Australians, whether they are businesses or households, an incentive to spend the $240 billion that has accumulated on their balance sheets since the start of the crisis. We have seen the savings ratio go up. We have seen Australians, because of the health restrictions, unable to spend their money and we've seen Australians overall be very cautious. But, as a result of the vaccine rollout, which has started, we are now starting to see that confidence return across the economy as well. Yesterday, when Jane, an 84-year-old Second World War veteran, got a shot in the arm, the Australian economy got a shot in the arm as well.