Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
My question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Ruston. Does the government remain committed to withdrawing the coronavirus supplement in September, and what is the minister's advice to the 2.3 million Australians who will be $550 per fortnight worse off?
Thank you very much, Senator Gallagher, for your question about what has been an extraordinarily important issue over the last three months and a very important supplement that has been in place to help those people who find themselves without a job during a time when the job market has effectively closed.
We have supercharged our safety net to assist people who find themselves unemployed because of and during a time of completely unprecedented unemployment pressure on our market. But we said at the time—and we remain committed to this—that they would be temporary, targeted, time-limited measures to help Australians to get through the crisis that is before us. We always said that about the measures that we put in place—not just the coronavirus supplement but many other measures that this government put in place to make sure that we could assist Australians who were immediately impacted, with an impact that came about in the most extraordinary circumstances. We've supported them through this time. We remain committed to supporting Australians during the coronavirus crisis, but we also remain committed to making sure that we put our economy back on track. But, in answer to your question, the time-limited measures have been put in place to meet the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2.3 million Australians include hundreds of thousands of students, widows, farmers and parents. How many of the 2.3 million does the government think are lifters and how many are leaners?
What I can tell the senator in response to her question is that this government is absolutely committed—always has been, from the day that we became aware that we were faced with this absolutely enormous crisis before us, which became very evident in February—to working with the Australian public, with the Australian community. In fact, we are even working with the Australian federal opposition, and the oppositions and the governments in the states and territories around Australia, so that we can all work together and support all Australians through this crisis.
In doing so, one of the most important things that we can do as a government is to make sure that our economy is supported so that jobs are re-created, so that we can get people who are currently unemployed back into employment as quickly as possible. That's exactly what the focus of this government has been right the way through: supporting people during the time when there is unemployment but making sure that jobs are re-created so that they can get back to work as soon as possible.
Department of Social Services figures show that the coronavirus supplement will be providing at least $2.6 billion per month in direct fiscal support in September. Why is the government insisting on a $2.6 billion per month hit to the economy during Australia's first recession in 29 years?
The Australian government, the Morrison government, the coalition government, is absolutely committed to putting the right measures into our economy to make sure two very clear things happen. One is that we support Australians who need our support during this time, and the other one is that we get the economy kickstarted on the other side of this so that we can actually have the jobs so people can go back.
Those opposite seem to think that they have got some sort of claim on monetary and fiscal policy within the economy. If they'd like to have a look at economics 101, they'd actually realise there are many ways that you can stimulate an economy, whether it's through fiscal or monetary policy—and, as Senator Smith behind me said, reducing the tax burden. For some reason, you seem absolutely fixated on particular things that you might think are the only way to stimulate the economy. We on this side know that you have to have a suite of measures, a full package, to make sure that you are taking a holistic approach to looking after all Australians.