Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Yesterday Mr Morrison said:
… the challenge of JobKeeper is that businesses will form views about those employees who they will be able to keep on longer term and those who they will not.
How many Australians does the Prime Minister expect will lose their jobs and be left behind when he withdraws JobKeeper at the end of September?
The government doesn't want any Australian to be left behind, but it is also true that we will not be able to provide crisis-level temporary support through a program like JobKeeper forever and ever. The commitment for the country surely must be for us to get back as soon as possible into a situation where businesses around Australia are able to pay the wages of their employees out of their income rather than on the basis of crisis-level temporary fiscal support.
Clearly, we've been hit with a one-in-100-year global pandemic that has had a devastating impact on our economy and on jobs. We provided crisis-level support. The next important decision is how we most appropriately transition into the strongest possible recovery on the other side. The government will continue to make responsible decisions in that context.
The Prime Minister made a statement yesterday, and the question went to how many people he thinks will lose their jobs, as he contemplated in his statement. I'd ask the minister to be directly relevant to the question.
The question directly asked, actually, how many Australians the government is intending to leave behind, and I directly answered that by making the point that the government doesn't want any Australian to be left behind. We'll continue to provide, so I was directly relevant.
The Australian people know that we made the best possible decisions in a set of very difficult circumstances to provide transitional support to keep as many businesses in business and as many Australians in jobs as possible and to provide enhanced support to those Australians who, through no fault of their own, lost their job. That is indeed what we've done. It was always clear that this would be a temporary arrangement, and the Australian people would expect us to help facilitate the strongest possible recovery as soon as possible so that all Australians have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. If they cannot continue in the job that they had before COVID, in the current business that they work for, then we've got to make sure we create the conditions where they can find a new and better job in another business.
There are already 140,000 more people on jobseeker than the government predicted for the month of June. How many more Australians does the government believe will join the 1.65 million already on jobseeker when Mr Morrison snaps back JobKeeper in September?
Firstly, I reject the premise of the question. What I would say is the government will continue to work to maximise the strength of the recovery on the other side. The government will continue to make responsible decisions, and the government will continue to ensure that all Australians have the best possible opportunity to get back into work if they've lost their job or to ensure that they can have a job in a business that is viable over the long term if that business, indeed, is not able to recover post COVID.
Digital Finance Analytics has warned that as many as 100,000 Australian households will default on their mortgages when JobKeeper is removed in September. With more than five million Australians and their families currently relying on direct government support, why is Mr Morrison continuing to insist on a flawed snapback strategy which will leave millions of Australians behind during the country's first recession in 29 years?
Senator Wong can repeat false assertions to scare people as often as she wants; it doesn't make them come true. What the government have said is that JobKeeper will remain in place for six months and that we will continue to make responsible decisions on how to most appropriately transition into the strongest possible economic recovery on the other side. There is a review currently underway, which is well publicised, by Treasury. Treasury will be putting advice and recommendations to the government, and the government will continue to make responsible decisions, as we have over the last few months as we've been dealing with a once-in-100-years global pandemic and devastating impacts on the Australian economy.