Thursday, 18 March 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister update the Senate on how the Morrison government's economic recovery plan is working to create a stronger economy with more jobs?
I thank Senator Molan for his question, and I know his deep interest in seeing the success of Australia, the continued success of our economy and continued jobs growth for Australians. The great news for Australians today is that jobs growth as part of our economic recovery plan has continued and is continuing strongly. Indeed, we welcome today the fact that the unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 per cent to 5.8 per cent in February. Employment has increased by some 88,700 people to be back above its March 2020 levels. Let all senators reflect on that fact for a moment: employment in Australia is back above the levels that existed in March 2020. The overall increase in employment was driven by full-time jobs. In fact, full-time jobs grew by some 89,100.
As Senator Abetz said before, you'd expect some cheering from those opposite. You would expect some positivity from those opposite, rather than the deathly silence of the merchants of doom and gloom over there. They want the vaccine program to fail. They want the economy to fail. They just want to see negative outcomes. They don't want to celebrate in Australia's success.
We know there's a job to continue to do, and we are determined to keep doing that job. We welcome the fact that building on the first two quarters in Australia's history of back-to-back three-plus per cent growth we've seen that translate into jobs growth. That jobs growth means more opportunities for more Australians and more security for more Australian families. Our policies are designed to keep that going into the future.
Based on those figures, can the minister inform the Senate on how the government's strong economic management is creating more jobs and what confidence this provides as we transition out of emergency and temporary support measures?
It's been the greatest global shock to the economy since the Great Depression. But our policies and the approach that we've taken in Australia, and the work of Australian businesses and the Australian people, have kept Australia safe and secure. They've kept our economy strong. That is evidenced by these job figures. Today we've seen Prime Minister Gillard's former economic adviser Stephen Koukoulas describe these figures as 'some pretty good labour force numbers, whichever way you cut it'. 'This recovery has been remarkably good,' he said.
We are pleased to see the recovery continuing, but we know that more work needs to be done. So we continue to work through the policies that are necessary to keep delivering for Australians. But already unemployment is above the forecasts of the RBA and better than the forecasts of the Treasury. Those jobs are good news for all Australians. (Time expired)
Under our economic recovery plan, we've been investing in some $251 billion of economic support to Australians—to businesses, to households, to families across the country. That continues. Significant parts of that economic support package continue. Of course, we have added to it in recent weeks as well.
As we enter the next phases, with the end of the JobKeeper program that we introduced, the largest single intervention ever in the Australian economy, we've subsequently implemented a $1.2 billion tourism and aviation recovery package, providing 800,000 half-price airfares across the country to get Australians travelling, to make sure we support those sectors that we need to target to continue to save and to create jobs for Australians. Our SME loan guarantee scheme has been widely welcomed by businesses, providing some $40 billion in lending support, all of it designed to keep the jobs growth we're seeing going into the future.