House debates

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Economy

2:15 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (Monash, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer remind the house about how the Morrison-McCormack government's Australian approach to economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession is driving world-leading responses so we can continue generating new jobs and economic growth? Treasurer, are there any other views?

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

I thank the member for Monash for his question and acknowledge his decades in small business before coming to this place, his work as a local councillor and his passion for creating jobs for older Australians across the country.

The economic recovery is underway. The Australian economy is fighting back. We've seen enormous resilience in the face of the single largest economic shock since the Great Depression. Yesterday I informed the House that Fitch had reaffirmed Australia's AAA credit rating. Australia is one of only nine countries in the world to have a AAA credit rating from the three leading credit rating agencies. They pointed out in their statement that Australia had performed well in response to the pandemic compared to our world peers. We've seen the International Monetary Fund say that the Spanish economy was expected to contract by around 11 per cent, the UK economy by 10 per cent, and the French and Italian economies by nine per cent. The German, the Canadian and the Japanese economies were expected to contract by more than five per cent and the US economy by 3.4 per cent.

Yet the Australian economy has been expected to contract by less than three per cent. By any standard, on both the health and economic fronts, Australia is performing strongly. Australia is performing strongly in the face of this pandemic and this economic shock.

We know that the labour market has been central to the performance of the Australian economy. Around 94 per cent of the 1. 3 million Australians who either lost their jobs or saw their working hours reduced to zero are now back at work. We saw the unemployment rate fall to 6.4 per cent, beating market expectations. We have seen hundreds of thousands of jobs being created in recent months. We've seen the underemployment rate at its lowest level in years. We've seen business and consumer confidence recover to their pre-pandemic levels. We've seen resilience in the housing market, we've seen resilience in motor vehicle sales and we've seen resilience across the Australian economy, with more than two million Australians graduating off JobKeeper in the December quarter, compared to the previous period.

In the face of this economic shock, we're seeing more jobs being created and we're seeing the Australian economy being remarkably resilient. We're seeing our economic plan, which involves putting more money into people's pockets through tax cuts; the JobMaker Hiring Credit, which is helping to get younger people out of the unemployment queues and back into work; the bringing forward of infrastructure projects; and the more than 300,000 new training places. All are designed to do one thing and that is to help create more jobs for Australians.