Thursday, 12 November 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to Senator Birmingham, the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Can the minister inform the Senate how the Morrison government's strong economic leadership is meeting the challenge of COVID-19, getting the economy back on track and getting Australians back into jobs?
I thank Senator Smith for his very important question, because Australia is leading the world when it comes to the economic recovery from the COVID induced recession that the globe is facing. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Australia, as it has on countries right across the world. Our economy, as we know, contracted by seven per cent in the June quarter, but this was substantially less—a much better performance than many of our international peers. In the UK it contracted by 20 per cent, in Canada by more than 11 per cent and in the United States by more than nine per cent. It was the decisive action that our government was able to take, thanks to years of good economic management, that enabled us to respond so strongly.
And we're now seeing our economy recover well as well. Our economic recovery plan is working. It's a long journey to come back from a hit this big, but 450,000 jobs have been recreated in the last four months. More than half of the record number of jobs lost from the COVID-19 crisis have already been recovered. Yesterday, we saw that the consumer sentiment index has risen again, for the third straight month. In fact, consumer sentiment last month had its single biggest rise in a budget month since the series was created in 1974. We also saw the consumer confidence index up for the 10th consecutive week, and it's now hit an eight-month high. Business confidence is up as well. It's up for trade, up for transport, up for construction and up for mining.
We're seeing the Australian economy recover because of the types of policy measures our government put in place to get business through the pandemic and to help them out of the pandemic. JobKeeper has seen $70 billion of support flow, but our other measures in this budget are now about helping that growth agenda. (Time expired)
The JobMaker hiring credit is an important part of our budget. Our budget outlined incentives to help businesses be encouraged to invest more, to ensure that they could carry back losses, to recognise those under financial pressure this year, and to ensure they can invest and deduct to incentivise the bringing forward of economic activity. And, yes, the hiring credit helps and encourages them to employ more young Australians.
We've done the research about what the impact has been in previous recessions, and we know that youth unemployment took the longest to recover from previous recessions. We know, when we look at the old Newstart data as well, that when young Australians get stuck on unemployment for too long it is much harder to get them off those unemployment benefits. That's why the JobMaker hiring credit is being put in place: to provide that incentive to make sure we don't have undue numbers of young Australians stuck on the unemployment queues any longer than necessary.
Although it is a long and hard road back from a hit the size of this, we are working to share our experiences with the rest of the world. The Prime Minister and other ministers have been actively engaged throughout this time in seeking knowledge and lessons from other parts of the world and also in sharing our experience in successfully suppressing the spread of COVID-19 and our experience in securing employment and businesses wherever we can through the types of responses we've put in place.
The Prime Minister is preparing to participate in the Australia-ASEAN summit, the East Asia Summit and the APEC leaders summit as well as the G20 summit over the next weekend. As well we're playing a leading role in WTO negotiations in the area of fisheries subsidies to ensure the sustainable future of our oceans. As well in e-commerce we're negotiating the first set of global rules on digital trade. This is even more important as we have seen the way that economies and businesses pivoted during this pandemic. It's our leadership that helped us get Australia through and we are working constructively with the world too.