Wednesday, 2 December 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister inform the Senate how the Morrison Liberal-National government's strong budget measures and economic leadership are ensuring our comeback from the COVID-19 recession?
Honourable senators interjecting—
I thank Senator McGrath for his question. The Australian economy is proving to be remarkably resilient as it strengthens and comes back from the COVID-19 induced recession. Today, the national accounts for the September quarter show that the recovery of the Australian economy is well underway. The Australian economy grew by 3.3 per cent for the September quarter, the strongest quarterly growth rate since 1976, and ahead of market expectations of 2.5 per cent. It follows, of course, the COVID-19 induced seven per cent fall in the June quarter.
The COVID-19 recession may, in a technical sense, be over, but our recovery continues and the government know that there is significant hard work ahead. We know that many Australian households and businesses continue to do it very tough, but, pleasingly, the national accounts saw strong growth in every state except Victoria for the September quarter. Growth is being driven by household consumption, which grew by 7.9 per cent for the quarter, the largest increase on record. It contributed some four per cent to real GDP growth for the quarter. Consumption was up across 17 categories, with the largest contributors being health, hotels, cafes, and restaurants—many sectors where small businesses and employees have been doing it tough. We welcome very much the fact that they are coming back strongly in terms of their recovery.
Our government's goal has been to make sure that Australians are safe from the virus, to keep Australians in their jobs and to help them to find a job through these tough times. We have been succeeding in these goals. Over the last five months, 650,000 jobs have been created, with the effective unemployment rate down from a peak of 14.9 per cent to 7.4 per cent. The Morrison government strongly contributed to this recovery with $257 billion of direct economic support and continues to invest. (Time expired)
The OECD has released its latest economic outlook report, and that report has upgraded Australia's economic growth outlook. The OECD notes that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert a substantial toll on economies and societies, with global GDP expected to contract by 4.2 per cent in 2020, and, indeed, across other advanced economies by an average fall of 5.5 per cent. However, in Australia the OECD has improved its forecast for Australia. Previously it had forecast a 4.1 per cent contraction; it now expects that to be 3.8 per cent. This, of course, is well above and better than the forecast for those other advanced economies. It's proof, yet again, that Australia's successful management of the health crisis and the economic crisis is delivering improved and better results for Australians compared with the rest of the world facing the global pandemic.
Yes, indeed. Leading up to today's GDP data, we've seen a range of different data points that show the recovery is well and truly under way. Unlike those opposite, who seem to think that this is all just a political game that they can heckle and jeckle about, ultimately these are serious issues that deal with the lives, jobs and businesses of Australians. We're pleased to see that consumer confidence is up 2.9 per cent—indeed, it's increased for 12 of the past 13 weeks. Payroll jobs data was up again this week. This is the third consecutive fortnight in which we have seen positive payroll jobs data. Building approvals rose by 3.8 per cent in October to be 14.3 per cent higher through the year. These measures are all about ensuring better job security for Australians, better prospects for Australian businesses and the recovery of Australia's economy from this global pandemic.