PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon. It is one year today since the Governor-General authorised the Biosecurity Emergency Declaration in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been an extraordinary year in Australia’s fightback in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. While it has been an absolutely terrible year, a year of uncertainty, of hardship, of terrible loss here in Australia, but frankly all around the world and in so many parts of the world that loss still runs on, it accelerates, it devastates. But while all of that is true, in Australia we have seen one of the most remarkable performances of Australians in our Australian economy that we have seen. In less than 12 months from when the recession began, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now more jobs in the Australian economy than there were before the pandemic. That is something that is truly remarkable and is a great credit to every Australian who hung in there, every Australian business who kept people in jobs, everyone who played a role in ensuring that we did everything that we possibly could to see that Australia continues to come through this COVID-19 pandemic and recession in the best way we possibly can. More jobs now than when the recession began.
For us as a Government, together with the Treasurer and our entire team, it’s always been ultimately about jobs for us when we come and form governments. We want to see more Australians in work because we know when an Australian has a job, it is good for their wellbeing. It is good for their hope. They can plan for their future. They are in control when they are in a job. That is why we want to see so many Australians in jobs and, indeed before the pandemic, 1.5 million jobs had been created since we first came to government. And those jobs are now restored. They are restored. There is still a long way to go. Unemployment has fallen to 5.8 percent. 876,400 jobs have been recreated in our economy since the start of that recession. 88,700 in net terms in February have been created, all of them full-time. 84 per cent of the jobs in this February figures for women. But we aren’t there yet. There are more hours still needed. There is still a lot more to do, particularly for young people and even though the youth unemployment rate has pleasingly fallen, there is still a distance to travel. The pacing of our supports into the economy are proved again to have been wise. We brought it in when it was most needed and we didn’t hold back. We kept it in as the crisis went through its most virulent period. But as we got to the other side, as it began to emerge as companies were getting back on their feet towards the end of September, we started to gear down those supports and the jobs increased. We geared down the supports again at the end of December and the jobs increased. So as we go into this next phase, we go in with a strong run up. We go in with a very strong jobs run up into the next phase of Australia’s comeback and Australia’s recovery. Our plan is working, Treasurer. We need to stick to the plan. Treasurer.
THE HON. JOSH FRYDENBERG MP, TREASURER: Thank you, Prime Minister. The strength and resilience of the Australian economy is on display again today. An unemployment rate at 5.8 per cent. 88,700 new jobs. A participation rate which remains around a record high. What is particularly pleasing in these numbers is that of that 88,700 jobs, all of them were full-time. More than 80 percent went to women and more than 40 percent went to young people. New South Wales and its economy has led the charge. 42,000 jobs being created in New South Wales over the month and their unemployment rate falling to 5.6 percent, the equal lowest of any state in the country. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. But months from here will continue to be challenging because we are still in the midst of a global pandemic and the greatest economic shock since the Great Depression. There are sectors, there are regions across the country that continue to do it tough, but these numbers are encouraging and these numbers give Australians confidence about their economic future.