Nearly six months into the pandemic, Labor’s Jim Chalmers said “the biggest test of this government’s management of the recession and its aftermath will be what happens with jobs”.
Jobs, he said, “will be the main issue at the election” with the Morrison government “judged on what happens to unemployment”.
It was a challenge we readily accepted.
As the pandemic hit, Australia was staring into the economic abyss, with Treasury fearing unemployment rising as high as 15 per cent.
We pulled out all stops to support the Queensland and Australian economies.
More than $30bn in commonwealth economic support was delivered to Queensland alone, with 728,000 Queenslanders supported by JobKeeper, 158,000 Queensland businesses supported by the cashflow boost, and close to one million Queensland pensioners, carers, veterans and others on income support receiving payments of up to $750.
Queensland theme parks, wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and aquariums were supported by the Morrison government as their doors were closed, while half price airfares encouraged tourists to travel to the Whitsundays, Cairns, Townsville, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
Now more than a year and a half on from Chalmers’ challenge, the results are in.
Despite facing the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression, the Australian economy remains resilient and the unemployment rate continues to fall.
At 4.2 per cent Australia’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in more than 13 years, and its equal-fourth lowest monthly outcome since the ABS began its series in 1978.
Of the 65,000 new jobs created last month, two-thirds were full-time and more than half of the 65,000 new jobs went to young people aged 15 to 24.
Across Australia, 1.7 million more people are now in work since the Coalition came to government, including one million more women.
Unemployment, underemployment and youth unemployment are all lower today under the Coalition.
In Queensland, there are 350,000 more people now in work, the unemployment rate a full percentage point lower and the state economy $50bn bigger than when federal Labor was last in office.
This is our record on jobs and it is one we will take to the next election.
So too our record on tax where we have legislated significant structural reform.
The Coalition has cut taxes for small businesses to their lowest level in 50 years and is abolishing a full personal income tax bracket as we deliver the biggest tax cuts for families in more than 20 years.
More than 2.2 million Queenslanders have received on average $3270 in tax relief, or $6.5bn, since our plan took effect.
This year alone, a Queensland teacher or nurse earning $60,000 would pay $2160 less tax, or $42 a week, compared with when Labor was last in office.
The simple truth is that Labor can’t be trusted to keep taxes low.
At the last election, they promised $387bn of higher taxes, with Chalmers boasting he was “proud and pleased” of Labor’s retiree and housing taxes.
Not to mention his attack on our legislated tax cuts that he called “offensive” as he repeatedly denigrated hardworking aspirational Australians as “the top end of town”.
Divisive class-war rhetoric designed to pit one Australian against another.
Higher taxes is in Labor’s DNA.
Anthony Albanese has advocated for the mining tax, the carbon tax and death duties. He has said himself at a Labor Party conference: “I am pleased to move this resolution, which is calling upon the government to consider the imposition of an inheritance tax.”
Labor may want voters to forget these words and these policies, but they will be reminded of them right up to election day.
Queenslanders have done it tough over the past two years as the pandemic has disrupted lives and livelihoods.
However, even with the spread of Omicron and the significant pressure it is putting on our health system and supply chains, it is not all doom and gloom.
Omicron is 75 per cent less severe than Delta, with the medical experts saying that we are approaching the peak.
With the national double-dose vaccination rate above 92 per cent, Australia is among the top 10 in the OECD.
Our Covid mortality rates are one of the lowest in the world with loss of life per head of population in the US 24 times, and in the UK, 21 times, that of Australia.
Our economic recovery, while not yet locked in, is stronger than any major advanced economy in the world.
The response to Covid was not perfect. It could not have been. There was no rule book for this once in a century event.
But based on what Queenslanders and Australians have achieved together, there is every reason to be confident not fearful about the year ahead.
Published in The Courier Mail