Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. In my home state of New South Wales more than 350,000 workers will be affected by the Morrison government ending JobKeeper in just 11 days. How many of the more than 350,000 workers will lose their jobs?
I reject the interjection that was made by Senator Watt before I'd even started my response. What our government is confident of—indeed, the advice that has been received from and made public in various statements by the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Secretary of the Treasury is to expect to continue to see jobs growth and jobs recovery as a result of the continued stimulus and activity going in across the Australian economy.
JobKeeper has absolutely saved many jobs. JobKeeper has, in fact, saved more than 700,000 jobs, on the estimates of experts. Other measures we've put in place include the tax cuts that I was talking about in this chamber yesterday, putting an extra $1 billion a month into the pockets of Australian households. They continue to drive extra economic activity and extra support. The $1.2 billion package announced in recent weeks in relation to support for the aviation, travel and tourism sectors will, again, provide additional activity job support across the Australian economy. The investment incentive measures we put in place and the loss carry-back measures that are there provide additional support for businesses across the Australian economy and continue to underpin jobs.
JobKeeper was, as we always said, intended to be a temporary targeted measure. What those opposite seem to forget is that that is also what the Labor Party called for. Mr Albanese—
There was only one question, so my point is in regard to relevance. I know that Senator Birmingham will roll out the list, but the question is on behalf of workers; 350,000 of them will be affected by the shutdown of JobKeeper in 11 days. My question asked one thing: how many of the more than 350,000 workers will lose their jobs? They want to know this information.
Senator O'Neill, I've allowed you to restate your question. The minister was directly talking about the subject matter, which was about the employment impact of that particular policy, so I believe he is being directly relevant. I can't instruct him how to answer a question or to accept the terms of a question.
We know plenty of jobs have been saved. We've seen growth month after month in terms of new jobs across the Australian economy. We also know that Mr Albanese said that JobKeeper will need a tapering off. He said that back in May last year. He said it would need a tapering off, and that is precisely what this government has done. (Time expired)
Opposition senators interjecting—
More than 110,000 businesses in New South Wales will be impacted by JobKeeper ending in just 11 days, with $345 million withdrawn from the local economy each fortnight. How many of the more than 110,000 New South Wales businesses will close?
Mr President, 813,600—that's the number of jobs created in the past eight months. That is 813,600 jobs added back into the Australian economy; 93 per cent of those who had lost work at the height of the pandemic are back in work. And the government is delivering on its policies, as we had always outlined and promised. We always said that our policies in response to this would be targeted and proportionate. We always said that JobKeeper would taper off—as indeed the opposition had called for. We also always said that it would come to an end at the appropriate time—also as the opposition called for. Mr Albanese said that we need a 'sensible, pragmatic transition out of the process'.
On relevance: in the remaining eight seconds, perhaps the minister would care to answer the question, which is, how many more of the more than 110,000 businesses will close?
I was listening carefully to the minister—
Senator Watt interjecting—
Senator Watt, I'm ruling—
Senator Watt interjecting—
Senator Watt, I allow points of order to emphasise the point of a question. But, with respect, I believe that the minister was being directly relevant. You're asking me to instruct him to answer in certain terms. He was specifically talking about the policy raised. You made your point, and there's an opportunity to debate the merits of answers after question time. Senator Birmingham, have you concluded? You have eight seconds remaining.
Kerri Glasscock, founding director of Venue 505 and the Old 505 Theatre—the very venue Minister Fletcher used in launching the details of his Live Music Australia program—has said, 'We have no future in New South Wales without JobKeeper.' Venue 505 is closing at the end of March. What does the minister have to say to Kerri?
We have faced a global economic disruption, the most significant since the Great Depression. Australia has managed to come through this faring better than nearly any other nation. It is not possible for government to guarantee the survival of every single business or every single job.
Senator O'Neill interjecting—
What government needs to do is to make sure we continue the trajectory of economic growth and jobs growth that we have been on since the depths of this crisis hit, and that is exactly what all our policies are geared to do.
Senator Watt interjecting—
All our policies are geared to keep businesses sustainable, to keep jobs growing, to generate more jobs. And with 813,000 jobs in the past eight months, those policies are clearly working. (Time expired)