Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Senator Cash. In light of today's announcement of the Morrison government's plan to permanently increase the JobSeeker rate, how will the government ensure that unemployed Australians remain engaged with the labour market and looking for jobs?
At least one can laugh at oneself. Australia's economic recovery is well underway. In fact, the recent ABS jobs data shows that employment increased by over 29,000 jobs last month, including an increase of 59,000 full-time jobs. This, of course, is a direct result of the Morrison government's economic recovery plan, which has provided unprecedented levels of support to Australian households and businesses. As our economic recovery continues, it is important that we provide Australians who've lost their jobs or who've had their hours reduced with the support they need to get into fulfilling employment. That is why, today, we've made a number of announcements in relation to the strengthening of mutual obligation requirements. The Morrison government firmly believes that the best form of welfare is a job. That is why we will put in place the necessary measures to ensure that those who don't have a job at the moment are doing everything they can to become work ready or, alternatively, if they are offered suitable employment, are able to take up that suitable employment.
We've made a number of changes, including to the number of job searches that a person needs to undertake. We're also establishing an employer reporting line so that people who actively say no to suitable work are able to be followed up by job providers or, alternatively, the department. We're also allowing people to participate in short training courses—for example, a course on JobTrainer. It's all about ensuring that we have the right mechanisms in place so that those people who are on welfare are becoming as job ready as we can get them to move into work.
Thank you, Senator Scarr. While the events of last year were unprecedented, they obviously required additional flexibility when it came to mutual obligation. The government worked with jobseekers. As you know, we lifted those mutual obligation requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now we're seeing jobs returning to the economy—over 800,000 jobs have actually returned. About 93 per cent of the jobs lost during COVID-19 have returned to the economy. Hours worked have now recovered by 74.5 million hours since the peak of the pandemic in May. Of course, we've seen job ads reach higher levels than before the pandemic, with Seek, ANZ and the National Skills Commission continuing to show increases in recruitment activity. When you are of the belief that the best form of welfare is a job, everything you do needs to be focused on ensuring people become as job ready as possible.
As I said in answer to Senator Scarr's first question, Australia's economic recovery is well underway. We only need to look at the recent labour force figures for January 2021, with the ABS jobs data showing that employment increased by over 29,000 that month, including an increase of 59,000 full-time jobs. That is, as I said, a direct result of the Morrison government's economic recovery plan, which has, as we know, provided unprecedented levels of support to Australian households and Australian businesses. As I said, we've seen over 800,000 jobs—that's around 93 per cent of the jobs lost during COVID-19—return to the economy. We're also seeing consumer confidence, business confidence and jobs ads grow to levels higher than before COVID-19. The best form of welfare is a job, and we will do everything, as a government, to get people into jobs, because that's where they belong.