Monday, 22 February 2021
Questions without Notice
The advice that the Secretary of the Treasury has given to parliamentary committees is that he expects the jobs recovery and the economic recovery in Australia to continue. What we have seen during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic is very clearly that the measures our government took saved jobs. JobKeeper, by various estimates, has saved some 700,000 jobs. What we have seen in relation to the 1.3 million Australians who lost their jobs or went to zero hours at the height of the pandemic is that 93 per cent of those jobs have come back. And what we anticipate—and, indeed, this is the advice from the Treasury and from the Reserve Bank—is that we should continue to expect to see that jobs recovery. That doesn't mean that, as we have said consistently from the start of the pandemic, every job and every business will be able to be saved—not every one will be able to be saved.
Senator Watt interjecting—
These are quite infantile comments coming from some, such as Senator Watt opposite, to be quite frank.
These are difficult, challenging issues, but what we have sought to do is put in place measures to protect the Australian economy, to protect the capacity in the Australian economy. It has saved hundreds of thousands of jobs along the way, and in net terms we are seeing new jobs being created so far each and every month. However, yes, there are some jobs that are being lost, but more are being created as a result of the measures that the government is putting in place. Post March there will continue to be enormous stimulus and activity across the Australian economy as a result of the different policy measures that our government continues to put in place.
The Reserve Bank governor expects additional job losses to occur when JobKeeper ends at the end of March. Youth unemployment is more than double the national unemployment rate, sitting at 13.9 per cent. How many more young people will lose their jobs when JobKeeper ends?
We absolutely acknowledge that there is a particular challenge with youth unemployment. That's why in the budget last year we put in place the JobMaker Hiring Credit as a policy proposal specific to younger Australians, and those opposite decided to come in and vote against, filibuster and make difficult the implementation of the JobMaker hiring credit.
We put that measure in place because we looked back at the advice around previous recessions and we knew that younger people in a recession were more likely to find it harder to come back into the workforce than older people. The evidence is actually proving that to be the case, justifying the policy decisions that our government took. As we've always said through this pandemic, the responses we want to put in place will be targeted and they'll be proportionate. That's precisely what we've done in relation to youth unemployment. The JobMaker hiring credit is there to help target additional support for young Australians, because we knew that that's where it would be needed.
The Treasury secretary expects to see job losses and 'a pause in the labour market after JobKeeper ends at the end of March'. In South Australia unemployment went up to 7.1 per cent in the last month. How many more South Australians will lose their jobs when JobKeeper ends?
What we expect to see, and indeed what the Treasury secretary, whom you just quoted, has told parliamentary inquiries is that he expects to see continued recovery in relation to the employment market and that he expects to see that continuing post the end of March.
I know those opposite seem to think that somehow there is a bottomless pit of taxpayer money and that forever and a day we might be able to run the types of subsidies, supports or otherwise across the Australian economy. However, that is just not feasible. The Australian economy and private sector businesses cannot be run on borrowed dollars and taxpayer dollars forever. The measures we've put in place have got us through the depths of the pandemic. We've taken different transitional steps and, in those different transitional steps at the end of September and the end of December, those opposite said the sky would fall in and it didn't. Employment continued to grow and unemployment continued to go down, and that is what we're going to continue to work towards.