Thursday, 13 May 2021
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator McMahon for her question and I acknowledge her deep commitment to the Northern Territory and to ensuring businesses stay in business and jobs are created. Australia entered the COVID-19 pandemic from a position of economic strength. Those opposite, prior to COVID, liked to talk the economy down but it was performing strongly, as we know. For the first time in 11 years, the budget was in balance. We actually had workforce participation in Australia, prior to COVID, at a record high. In excess of 13 million Australians were in work. Of course, as Senator Ruston well knows, we also had welfare dependency at its lowest in a generation. That is something that we should all be very, very proud of. The strong fiscal position that the government was in at the time enabled us to respond decisively in putting in place a $290 billion economic support package.
In terms now, though, of the government's economic and fiscal strategy, the budget very much does set out the economic recovery strategy that we have, in particular by supporting sustainable, private sector led growth and job creation. We are looking to drive down the unemployment rate lower than precrisis levels. As we know, in terms of workforce participation at this point in time, we still have now, even though we've been through COVID, more Australians in employment than ever before. In fact, the unemployment rate has fallen rapidly and is set to recover five times faster than the last recession, in the 1990s. This is a government that is committed to putting in place the economic framework so that businesses can employ more Australians.