Wednesday, 7 October 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. Can the minister confirm there are 928,000 Australians over 35 years old who will snap back to living on $40 a day after December and who will be ineligible for the Morrison government's hiring credit scheme?
Can the minister explain that, despite unveiling a budget with a debt well in excess of $1 trillion, the Morrison government has left behind nearly one million Australians over 35 years old without work?
No, I cannot confirm this. What the Morrison government delivered last night was its plan to get Australia out of the COVID recession and to get Australians back into work. We are not accepting that people will remain on income support forever and a day; we are working to get people back to work. We understand that there is a difference between people who have a track record in the workforce, who have been employed before, in terms of their employability, and the challenges faced by a more vulnerable segment of the population in the context of the COVID recession. Based on experiences in previous recessions, we understand young Australians who have either not yet been in the workforce and are about to get into the workforce or only just recently been engaged in the workforce are in a comparatively more challenged position. It is very important that we ensure that they do not become entrenched in terms of having to rely on welfare support. That is why we've put in place the particular hiring credit, in order to provide particular support to young Australians. But, of course, we want all Australians to get back into work. (Time expired)
How many of the 928,000 Australians aged over 35 years will be still without work when JobKeeper ends in March and be left to live on $40 a day when JobSeeker snaps back in December?
We are working to ensure every single Australian has the best possible opportunity to get back into work. That is what we are doing. We are working to ensure that we get Australia out of the COVID recession and get Australians back into work. Of course, the Australian people, unlike the Labor Party, understand why we are in the position we're in. They also understand that, while it's been tough and while we will continue to go through a tough period, we are in a comparatively stronger and better position than most other comparatively advanced economies around the world. We will let the Labor Party continue with the sniping, and we will continue to work to give every Australian the best possible opportunity to get back into a job.
My question is to Australia's absolutely outstanding Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Can the minister inform the Senate how the Morrison government's 2020-21 budget sets out a comprehensive plan to get Australia out of the COVID recession and Australians back into jobs?
I thank Senator Scarr for that very important question. The budget we delivered last night was indeed our plan to get Australia out of the COVID recession and to get Australians back into jobs—jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs. We are focused on saving the jobs that need to be saved. We are there to restore the jobs that were lost. We are there to create more new jobs, but it will be a private sector led recovery.
On this side of the chamber, we understand that jobs don't grow on trees. On this side of the chamber we understand that jobs are created by viable, successful, profitable, growing businesses. That is why in our budget we have taken a whole series of very important measures to ensure that businesses have the best possible opportunity to be successful into the future and to grow, because we know that a growing business will hire more Australians. If you look at the measures that we've taken since the start of the COVID pandemic, there's been $507 billion worth of fiscal support, 25.6 per cent of GDP in support of the Australian people and our economy. This budget alone provides $74 billion worth of support measures as part of our JobMaker plan to drive the strongest possible private-sector led economic recovery and to drive the unemployment rate down, which will be good for the economy, which will be good for the opportunity of working families around Australia to get ahead and which will be good for our budget and for budget repair into the future, because, of course, more people in work means more revenue for government from income tax. It means lower payments on welfare support for jobseekers, which, of course, is what we are focused on. That's what we've achieved in the past, and that's what we'll work for in the future.
Our JobMaker plan aims to support about one million jobs over the next four years. Our JobMaker hiring credit will boost jobs growth by offering an incentive for businesses to hire younger jobseekers. Treasury estimates that measure alone will support about 450,000 jobs for young Australians at a cost of about $4 billion. Other job-creating measures which will help all Australians who are looking for work include our record investment in upskilling and reskilling Australians, starting with the establishment of the $1 billion JobTrainer Fund to create more than 340,000 free or low-cost training places, $1.2 billion to create 100,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships with a 50 per cent wage subsidy for businesses who employ them, $1.4 billion— (Time expired)
Bringing forward income tax relief for hardworking families, focusing on low- and middle-income earners across Australia puts more money into their pockets, boosts their take-home pay, but it also helps to stimulate the economy because, of course, it will lead to a strengthening of aggregate demand in the economy, it will help ensure that businesses across Australia are able to benefit from a strengthening in demand. The budget also delivers, of course, significant other tax cuts. These tax cuts which we are proposing now, about $17.8 billion worth, build on the $8.1 billion worth of tax relief which is being delivered for the 2020-21 income year under our previously legislated personal income tax plan. In 2020-21 low- and middle-income earners will receive tax relief of up to $2,745 for singles and up to— (Time expired)
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Women, Senator Ruston. Why in a budget racking up in excess of $1 trillion in debt did the Morrison government allocate just 0.024 per cent to spending promises in the women's economic statement? Why is the Morrison government leaving Australian women behind?
I thank Senator Smith for the question. The federal government is absolutely delighted to be able to have presented the second Women's Economic Security Statement as part of this budget, and a number of new measures have been able to be added to the ongoing measures that are embedded in every part of the budget to support Australia's women as part of our plan for the economic recovery that was announced, which was our budget last night. We believe that women play a very important role. First and foremost, we also understand that the most important thing we can do for women is to make sure that they have access to work when and if they want it.
But there are a number of measures that were listed last night in the Women's Economic Security Statement, including a couple that are particularly in my area. There was the announcement of the paid parental leave changes for women who have missed out on being able to get paid parental leave because the circumstances surrounding them becoming unemployed meant that they couldn't meet the work test. We have allocated $130 million over this 12-month period alone to make sure that women who found themselves out of work due to the COVID pandemic are still able to access their paid parental leave. We understand that many of those women had probably made decisions in relation to their families before the pandemic hit.
We have also made sure that we have a very strong focus on getting women into work in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We understand that the jobs of the future are going to be around that science base, because so many of the exciting opportunities for Australian employment going forward are going to be in these areas. So there are a number of areas in the budget that are focused on making sure that women have the opportunity to take the jobs of the future, supporting them in their education, their skills and their training to make sure that they can take those opportunities.
Can the minister confirm that for the more than 754,000 women accessing JobSeeker and youth allowance the Morrison government's budget is simply offering a reduction in their support payments and a training course?
The answer to your question, Senator Smith, is absolutely no. The federal government has put an absolutely unprecedented support package in place for all Australians, including Australian women. In March we put in place the coronavirus supplement, which was available for all Australians. But, equally, we understand that Australian women have been impacted equally by job losses. In the July economic and fiscal update we made an announcement in relation to the continuation of that supplement.
But the most important thing that we can do as a government is to make sure that we work with businesses, because it will be businesses that create the jobs to enable Australian women who have found themselves without work during this pandemic to go back into work—to give them the opportunity. It will not be government that creates jobs. Governments don't create jobs. It will not be the government that spends us out of this recession; it will be business.
Why, despite slugging Australians with a debt in excess of $1 trillion for generations to come, is there nothing in the Morrison government's budget to make it easier to access child care and increase women's workforce participation?
Honourable senators interjecting—
Thank you, Mr President. I would absolutely refute the accusation and allegation in the question that I've just received. This government has gone out of its way to make sure that we've supported all Australians. That includes women, and particularly women who have children, to make sure that they have the same opportunities as all Australians. As I said in my answer to the previous question, it will not be without the support of a strong and profitable economy and strong and profitable businesses which provide the employment opportunities for women—
Thank you, Mr President. The question did relate to there being nothing in the budget in relation to child care. I just wonder if the Minister representing the Minister for Women might want to return at some point to that question.
That was part of the question. I will be honest: that was one question which I missed being able to transcribe all of because of the noise in the chamber. That was part of the question that I heard. I will call Senator Ruston to continue.
Thank you very much, Mr President. I would draw the attention of those on the other side to the amount of support that this government has provided to child care during the last six months, to support Australian women and families and to make sure that they have access to the support they needed when businesses were shut down and they had nowhere to put their children to be able to get to work. They were provided with additional support. We have supported the childcare sector through this pandemic and we will continue to support the childcare sector.
Senator Watt interjecting—
Senator Rennick interjecting—
My question is for the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Can the minister update the Senate on the Morrison government's plan to get Australians back into jobs as outlined in last night's budget?
I thank Senator Bragg for the question. As Senator Ruston has articulated, it is employers that create jobs. Governments put in place policy frameworks that employers lever off. Certainly, the Morrison government is focused on putting in place those policies that will ensure Australian businesses are able to prosper, grow and create more jobs for Australians. In fact, from when the coalition was elected to office in 2013 to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy has now created in excess of 1.5 million new jobs. Last night's budget further demonstrated the Morrison government's commitment to getting Australians back in the workforce.
The Australian economy is now fighting back from COVID-19. In fact, in the last three months we've seen around 458,000 jobs created. As Senator Cormann has stated, the government is particularly focused on ensuring that young Australians, who've been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, are able to get back into the workforce.
Last night the Treasurer announced our $4 billion hiring credit. This will give employers who take on an eligible jobseeker aged between 16 and 35 an incentive of between $200 and $100 per week for 12 months. We anticipate that this hiring credit will help around 450,000 young Australians—young Australians who we want to get back into work. That is, of course, on top of the announcement we recently made of $1.2 billion to create an additional 100,000 new apprenticeships. Again, this announcement is all about doing what we can do as a government to ensure that we have the best policy framework in place to get Australians and, in particular, young Australians, back into work.
As I've said, we know that young Australians have been disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19. The Morrison government's $4 billion hiring credit will support around 450,000 positions by giving employers an incentive for each new job they create over the next 12 months that employs someone who's been on income support in at least one of the three previous months at the time of hiring.
The hiring credit itself complements other existing government wage subsidies that are already in place. We already have in place a number of wage subsidies for existing cohorts of people such as parents returning to the workforce, Indigenous Australians and the long-term unemployed. We also have a $10,000 Restart wage subsidy that actually helps jobseekers aged over 50 to get back into the work. In the last few years, that has assisted 50,000 Australians to get a job.
While the impacts of COVID-19 have been absolutely devastating on the Australian economy, it must be remembered that Australia entered this crisis from a position of economic strength. That is why last night we were able to hand down the budget and make that further level of investment that we did.
When we entered COVID-19 the economy was growing and, in fact, we had record employment participation, labour force participation, in Australia. The unemployment rate had fallen to 5.2 per cent and the budget was back in balance for the first time in 11 years.
As the Prime Minister has said to Australians: 'We have done this before—we've got your back. We will put in place the right policies to ensure that we can emerge stronger on the other side of COVID-19.' That is why, as we emerge from the health crisis, the JobMaker plan that we have outlined to the Australian people will get Australians back into work.