Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
JobSeeker Payment, COVID-19: Employment
I rise to take note of the minister's answers as well. It's been one thing to see that Australia is entering into its first recession in 29 years—a remarkable event in and of itself. The amount of growth that's happened in the Australian economy, especially over the last seven years, all comes down to coalition governments. We've entered into this recession, a recession that I remind senators is caused entirely by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down economies all around the world. Let me just put on the record how Australia has performed against some of its larger international peers. Australia's GDP has decreased by seven per cent. We acknowledge that. The United States of America's GDP has shrunk by 9.5 per cent. Germany's has shrunk by 10.1 per cent. France's has decreased by 13.8 per cent. The GDP of the whole eurozone has decreased by 12.1 per cent. And the UK's GDP has decreased by 20.4 per cent. So senators can see that, by any measure, the Australian economy has done better than that of many of its peers.
As I said at the beginning, this fall in GDP—this recession—has been caused by COVID-19. Indeed, in some states where there are no lockdowns and no border closures, like the good state of New South Wales, yes, there are green shoots starting to arise because businesses can open. Businesses can see the light of day. They see that they have the ability to trade out of this, unlike those in my home state of Victoria, where there is little or no hope because we're in stage 4 lockdown, and we're going to be locked down for an awfully long time yet. Why are we locked down, I hear you all ask?
Senator Seselja interjecting—
Thank you very much, minister. The reason is that the Andrews state government has failed Victorians miserably. Let me talk about how they have failed. There are a number of ways you can protect a community from a pandemic. One way is to keep it out of the community. That's called quarantine. That was failure No. 1 for Premier Andrews. If you have let it out into the community—and this can happen; as New South Wales has seen, you can have outbreaks—then what do you need to do? You need to contain it. There are two ways to contain a pandemic: testing and contact tracing. New South Wales has provided a gold standard. It provides a lesson to Victoria on how to do contact tracing. Victoria's contact tracing is, on any estimate, at about 30 per cent of New South Wales's contact tracing. By any measure, 30 per cent is a complete and utter failure.
The Andrews state government has failed Victorians. The economy is going to be strangled because Victoria is not going to come out of lockdown. The Premier has already stated that he is going to keep us in lockdown for another two weeks longer than the six weeks that were initially planned, so that will be eight weeks of stage 4. Business owners I've spoken to are in desperate straits because, although they got through stage 3, in stage 4, they were just crushed under the weight of not being able to open their doors. If you want jobs, what you have to do is very, very simple: let businesses open their doors. If you want jobs, let people travel to your state to do business, to visit your tourism regions and go to your restaurants. But not in Victoria—they can't lock down the borders because no-one wants to come in in the first place. They have strangled the economy such that it is going to take forever to recover.
I know that, in coming months and years, those opposite are going to point at the Morrison government and say, 'Look what you've done.' I want to put on record here that I will remind senators opposite at every turn how this happened in Victoria—that it was the Andrews state government that failed Victorians and continues to fail Victorians. He's now even locking them up for a Facebook post. This is absolutely shameful behaviour. I, for one, condemn it.