I thank the Prime Minister for entrusting me with the responsibility of serving as Australia’s new Minister for Finance and as the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The world faces the largest global economic crisis since the Great Depression. My first priority is to work with the Prime Minister, Treasurer and our team to fully implement our plan for economic recovery laid out in the recent budget.
Our government’s most important achievement pre-pandemic was the extent of job creation across Australia. More than 1.5 million additional jobs delivered record employment, record workforce participation, a stronger economy, stronger revenue flows and lower social security costs.
Crucially, it also delivered Australian households with greater economic strength and independence, while allowing government to invest more in health, education, disability, aged care and other essential services, as well as our national security.
Creating the investment and business conditions to again drive jobs growth is the most important task ahead. We will only be able to restore budget finances with a strong economy and high levels of employment.
Although post-budget confidence has grown strongly across Australia, the circumstances in parts of Europe and the United States are a constant reminder that COVID-19 creates many uncertainties. Between now and next year’s budget we will closely monitor global impacts on the recovery and build on our plan as necessary.
For now, I will also continue as Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. We will not relent in seeking to advance and, where possible, conclude trade negotiations, while actively supporting our exporting farmers and businesses.
Our amazing tourism industry is most deeply impacted by COVID-19. Tourism businesses and jobs will continue to have my close attention now and into the future as we work to help the industry survive, adapt and rebuild.
The Australian Senate is one of the great pillars of our democracy. Although sometimes a frustration for governments, the Senate is an important check and balance as well as a powerful voice for smaller states.
Together with new Deputy Leader Michaelia Cash, Manager of Government Business Anne Ruston and my government colleagues, I look forward to working with senators from across the political spectrum to achieve the best outcomes for Australians.
My predecessor, Mathias Cormann, dedicated himself to the finance ministry with diligence, discipline and determination. Mathias’s tireless work to bring the federal budget back to balance helped to ensure we could respond to the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19. Our resilience and strong plans are delivering better results than most other nations. As Senate Leader Mathias demonstrated a respect for the institution while achieving results for the government and the nation.
I wish Mathias, Hayley, Isabelle and Charlotte every happiness in the next phase of their lives. Like all our families they have made significant sacrifices. Mathias would make an outstanding OECD Secretary General and I will continue to give Australia’s campaign for this role my full support as both trade and finance minister.