Wednesday, 17 June 2020
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) between World War 2 and the 1970s, the average unemployment rate was 2%, and
(ii) since the 1980s, 5% unemployment has been considered 'full employment' by most governments, even though it means hundreds of thousands more people either have no work or not enough work; and
(b) considers that:
(i) 'full employment' should mean what most people think it means, namely that everyone who wants a job can get one, and
(ii) Australia should have a full employment target of 2% unemployment and 2% underemployment.
The coalition government is working hard to keep unemployment as low as possible. Our job creation record is strong. Prior to COVID-19, we had created 1.5 million jobs since coming to office in 2013, and we will work to get Australians back to work as our economy opens up and the coronavirus restrictions are lifted in the coming months. The government is focused on getting Australians into jobs, and the best way to reduce unemployment is by supporting small and family businesses to hire Australian workers. We don't believe in setting specific targets for the number of people who should be out of work.
Labor supports the intent of the motion, but we won't be supporting it today. We believe the concept of full employment is complex. It involves the interaction of many factors, including: the structure of the job market and industries; participation; casualisation; frictional unemployment, as some people choose to move between jobs; and how unemployment rates can interact with inflation. We think that choosing a hard unemployment target via a Senate motion is an arbitrary endeavour.