MONDAY, 6 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: Eden-Monaro by-election; Deloitte June Outlook; Australia's economic recovery; Victorian outbreak; Social media and foreign interference.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: On Saturday, a seat which has almost always been held by the Government of the day was won by the Labor Opposition during a national crisis. That victory was a tribute to the character and commitment of Kristy McBain, the leadership and authenticity of Anthony Albanese, and the dedication of literally thousands of supporters and volunteers. We are so grateful to the people of Eden-Monaro for sending somebody of the calibre of Kristy McBain to stand up for them in the national parliament. We're looking forward to getting to work with Kristy to represent those towns and communities that she has now been elected to represent.
The message from that by-election for Scott Morrison is really clear: no more of the spin and marketing when what people really need is a plan for jobs into the future. No more leaving communities out and leaving them behind. No more keeping the JobKeeper review secret, or the plans to jack up the GST, or to attack people's superannuation. The message for Scott Morrison is clear: people don't want to be left out and left behind during this first recession in three decades.
That brings me to the Deloitte Access Economics report which has been released today. It had three messages. The first one is that the Government needs a plan for jobs in the recovery from this first recession in 29 years. Secondly, it points to the dangers of withdrawing support for the economy too soon in a way that will cruel the recovery. Thirdly, it points out, rightly, that the best way to fix the budget is to fix the economy.
The Government cannot allow this to be a jobless recovery where some gallop ahead but too many are left behind. Millions of workers and thousands of businesses are justifiably anxious about the future, where the jobs will come from, and where people fit in the story of the economy going forward. It can't be a jobless recovery where too many people are left behind. At a time when unemployment will be higher for longer, it makes no economic sense whatsoever for businesses and workers to be left in the lurch, and for that welcome support to be withdrawn too early.
The Government mismanaged the economy going into this recession and they can't be allowed to mismanage it coming out. The absence of an economic plan has cost jobs to now and the absence of an economic plan will cost jobs in the recovery as well. We call on the Government to heed the advice of Deloitte Access Economics, the Reserve Bank, and other credible institutions: don't leave businesses and workers in the lurch. Don't leave them out and leave them behind during this recession. Snapping out all of the support from the economy in the last weekend in September will snap the recovery before it even gathers pace. Over to you.
JOURNALIST: The Deloitte report forecasts that Victoria is likely to be the worst affected state economy during the COVID crisis. What does Victoria need to do to turn things around?
CHALMERS: Clearly the developments in Victoria have been incredibly concerning. It's been expected all along that there will be, from time to time, outbreaks in parts of Australia but it's still concerning to see the cases which have been uncovered down there. That will obviously have economic consequences as well. We've always acknowledged that closing down parts of the economy brings devastating economic impacts. That's what we're seeing in Victoria. Indeed it’s what we're seeing right around Australia. What people really need around the country is a plan from Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg for the economy, and a plan for jobs and the future. We need to hear what the Government intends to do with JobKeeper and JobSeeker. The uncertainty around JobKeeper is costing jobs. We need to have that clarified as soon as possible. There's enough anxiety and enough uncertainty in the community as it is without Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg adding to that by keeping their plans for JobKeeper secret.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned the Federal Government, but isn't this partly a state issue as well?
CHALMERS: Clearly the states have an important role in managing outbreaks like the one that we're seeing in Victoria. We have been supportive all along of Premiers and Chief Ministers of either political persuasion taking difficult decisions based on the best available advice. We support the difficult decisions being taken by Dan Andrews and the other Premiers and Chief Ministers when those decisions are well-founded, and when they’re careful, considered and based on the advice of the experts.
JOURNALIST: What do you make about the decision to close the border between New South Wales and Victoria?
CHALMERS: Clearly that's another really difficult decision that's been made necessary by the outbreak in Victoria. Again, Premiers and Chief Ministers will make those difficult decisions based on the best advice available to them. Our job in federal politics is to be supportive of those decisions and understanding of those decisions. This diabolical health crisis does bring devastating economic consequences. The worst thing for the economy would be if an outbreak like we're seeing in Victoria became even more widespread. We need to be very careful and very cautious about that. None of these decisions are taken lightly. None of these decisions are easy. But they're important if we are to continue to limit the spread of this virus in the interest of people, their communities, and the national economy.
JOURNALIST: Should this decision have been made earlier?
CHALMERS: I'm not going to second-guess the decisions taken by the Premiers based on the advice that's available to them. Clearly there is a lot of consideration and a lot of care that needs to be exercised when it comes to these decisions. That's what we've been seeing from Premiers and Chief Ministers of both political persuasions. We need to be supportive of that. Nobody wants to see the economy or the borders closed down for longer than is necessary, but clearly difficult times like these warrant very difficult decisions like those taken and announced today.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the social media app TikTok should be banned in Australia?
CHALMERS: Obviously there are really concerning developments about foreign interference, particularly as it relates to social media platforms. That's why Labor last year initiated a Senate committee process to look into some of these very difficult and very complex issues. We're not privy to all of the advice that the Government receives about this. No doubt they'll be seeking that kind of advice and acting on it appropriately.
JOURNALIST: What are your concerns about the app?
CHALMERS: Clearly right around the world democracies are being attempted to be compromised by fake news and misinformation campaigns and the like. We want to make sure that we get on top of that. That's why we initiated the Senate committee. If there are further steps that the Government wants to take based on the advice that they’ve received privately, then let's hear about that. We'll engage in that constructively.
JOURNALIST: There have been concerns that the Chinese-owned platform leaks users’ information to Beijing. Does this need to be addressed?
CHALMERS: Those concerns have been raised and they are some of the reasons why we need to take this issue very seriously, not just this specific issue but more broadly. We need to make sure that we are protecting our democracy and the democracies of the world by making sure that we do have as robust a protection as possible against misinformation campaigns. That's why we've taken responsible steps to understand more about what may be going on here. The Government should be doing the same as well. No doubt they're getting some private advice on that, and we should hear about that and any steps that they propose in due course. Thanks very much.