Thursday, 18 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. ABS figures show that payroll jobs in the accommodation and food services sector have fallen by nearly 30 per cent since March. Before COVID-19, more than 4,200 people in Eden-Monaro worked in cafes, restaurants and accommodation, in towns like Bega, Murrumbateman, Tumut and Queanbeyan. Can the minister confirm how many of these 4,200 jobs are old jobs that Mr Morrison has given up on?
I would just again say that I reject the premise of that final part of the question. We want every single Australian to have the best possible opportunity to get back into work. Let me say that of course the food and accommodation services have been particularly hard hit. We are dealing with a one-in-a-hundred-year global pandemic with devastating impacts all around the world, including here in Australia, but we are performing comparatively better than other parts of the world. But let me say, you talk about tourism and hospitality services across Eden-Monaro. They would be in so much better a position if only the Queensland state Labor government opened those state borders and those people from Brisbane who want to go to the snow in Eden-Monaro could go and—
It is clear that those socialists over there don't understand the implications of closed state borders. The closed state borders mean Queenslanders are restricted from going into the snow in Eden-Monaro without going back into quarantine for a couple of weeks.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Clearly, this is why the Labor Party always stuff up the economy, because they don't understand the basic fact that closed borders actually restrict economic activity. There would be more jobs in Eden-Monaro if the people of Brisbane could go to the snow in Thredbo and, indeed, if they could go to all the fantastic restaurants and accommodation facilities all around the seat of Eden-Monaro. It is the state Labor government in Queensland that is holding those jobs back and the state Labor government in Queensland should open those borders now.
It is always somebody else's fault. Retail expert Queensland University of Technology Professor Gary Mortimer has warned that many retailers may not reopen once support is removed. He said: 'Retailers will see this as a chance to cut off the dead wood in their networks.' How can the more than 7,000 sales assistants and hospitality and retail managers in towns like Queanbeyan, Jindabyne, Cooma or Eden tell if they have one of the old jobs that Mr Morrison has turned his back on?
Even for a socialist, that is twisted logic. People in shops will get their jobs back when consumers go back into those shops to buy products. That is how you get jobs back. Somehow he seems to think that by government edict you can sort of prop up these jobs and people. What, they sit on their chair? Clearly we want the economy to recover as strongly as possible. We want businesses to be back in business and successful and a profitable environment as soon as possible. We want businesses to have confidence to invest and hire more Australians. But it has got to be on the basis of genuine activity, not because the government somehow provides an edict that says 'this now shall be a job'. In a free market economy, there is a bit more to it. Our government is making sure we have the best possible policy settings in place to ensure that people all around Australia, including in Eden-Monaro, have the best possible opportunity to get back into work if they have lost their job and, indeed, to remain in work if they have a job. (Time expired)
Before COVID-19, one in 10 workers in the capital region were out of work or looking for more work. How can the Australian people trust the government to manage the recovery when regional Australians were already being left behind before the pandemic?
When we came into government in 2013, we inherited a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating budget position. We worked very hard for six years to turn that situation around—
Opposition senators interjecting—
Mr President, again, on a day we've had nearly quarter of a million Australians lose their job, bringing the numbers to 835,000 since March, I think people in this region deserve this minister answering the question rather than giving a political rant.
With respect, I am not sure. I think the minister, given the tone of the question, is actually being relevant; although I might add that I could barely hear him over my shouting for order. I will ask senators to remain quiet so I may rule on future points of order. Senator Cormann.
The people in Eden-Monaro, and in particular in Queanbeyan, who are quite close to what happens in Canberra, know the mess that you left behind—a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating budget position. They know that we worked hard to turn the situation around and they know that we went into this crisis, which came to us from external factors, in a comparatively stronger position because of the work that we've done over the last six years. Indeed, they know that we will continue to make the responsible decisions moving forward to ensure that every Australian has the best possible opportunity to get ahead. (Time expired)