House debates

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Questions without Notice

JobKeeper Payment

2:32 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—just before I ask my question, and also on behalf of the member for Nicholls, I would like to acknowledge Tom Harley, the Geelong two-time premiership-winning captain, who's in the gallery. He's currently on loan to the Sydney Swans as their CEO.

My question is to the Prime Minister. Next month, 1.3 million Australian will have their JobKeeper payments ripped away by his government. How many of those 1.3 million Australians will lose their jobs?

2:33 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

When we put in place the JobKeeper and JobSeeker arrangements, the great challenge that Australia faced was that we knew that millions of Australians were going to find themselves in a situation where either their hours would be reduced to zero or they would lose their jobs. At the time, we made estimations based on the advice we had as to what the increased demand for the social safety net would be, but they were completely outstripped by what we then saw occur. What we did was put in place an integrated income support system, which was JobKeeper and JobSeeker, working together. We knew the normal social safety net would be insufficient to deal with the scale of a challenge such as we have never seen before. That's why we did it, and that's why those two programs came together.

The comeback of the Australian economy has been underway for some time now. The change that we have made in the transition to move away from those emergency supports to longer-term supports is also underway. We've seen 93 per cent of the jobs that were lost during the course of the COVID-19 recession now come back. That is welcome, and we look forward to further improvements. We also know that, in terms of the emergency supports that we put in place through both JobKeeper and the COVID-19 supplement, we now need to move to the next phase. The vaccination program has begun. The Australian economy is in a much stronger position, of course, than it was a year ago. Confidence levels have returned to above prepandemic levels. That means we have great confidence that the social safety net that is in place in this country and is respected by Australians will be there to support those who have lost their employment. It will be there to help them, and also, because of the decision of this government, they will be getting a higher level of base support than we have seen in this country. This is the single largest increase in a year to the JobSeeker payment since 1986. That's been done by a Liberal-National government, and we look forward to the support of the opposition for that historic change.