The Prime Minister did an address at the National Press Club in Canberra talking about the tough road ahead economically with a plan to stick with the National Cabinet meetings over the previous COAG meetings.
Reform to vocational education was on his mind and bringing unions to the table for industrial reform.
The Prime Minister outlined the road to recovery would be a long one taking between three to five years. The unprecedented actions of Jobkeeper and Jobseeker set in place for a financial quarter would not continue indefinitely with the PM warning “At some point you’ve got to get your economy out of ICU.”
The ABC article also editorialised “The blunt comments are expected to further dash hopes that the Government will bow to pressure and extend the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to more workers who missed out on the $1,500 fortnightly payments.“
He also announced a new JobMaker scheme.
There was no push to have Australia turn more inward, while the Prime Minister defined us as a sovereign trading economy he sought to create an educated workforce that would mean competitive and modern manufacturing, agricultural industries while still trade of natural resources would play a big role.
We will not retreat into the downward spiral of protectionism. To the contrary, we will continue to be part of global supply chains that can deliver the prosperity we rely on to create jobs, support incomes and build businesses.
These remarks were not without context, Australia did call for an independent enquiry into the source of COVID-19 in Wuhan and in the weeks since China has placed tariffs and seen a reduction in importing Australian barley and wheat.
As China has grown into the a economic powerhouse it has started flexing abroad in trade and in military excursions. No different than other superpowers before it but surely any calls that could help in combating this global pandemic should not lead to bullying tactics.
The country was up against it but Scott Morrison on the 25th of May outlined Australians were ready to get to the work of recovery.
In his speech he referred to “Thai, from Traralgon and he wrote this “we just need someone to fire the starter’s gun on the economy. Someone to say, ‘on your marks, get set, go’. I’ve got good news. Today I want to talk about that recovery. Because that is what millions of Australians are now relying on. And there is reason to hope.”
The national leader relayed all the work that had been done to build up medical stockpiles, hospital capacity and testing numbers and contract tracing abilities.
The virus was not going anywhere and on our comparative good fortune the PM stressed, “We should not downplay this, this achievement and pretend like the risk never existed, or that our preparations or our precautions were unwarranted. Let me assure you, Australia, the risk was great and uncertain and it still is.
In his speech the Prime Minister outlined more than 5 million Australians were directly benefiting from his government’s welfare measures.
It was William Green, the leader of the American Federation of Labour who said during the Great Depression in 1934: “we cannot indefinitely support one sixth of our population on money borrowed against future taxes”.
Now here was a mainstream conservative leader steering through a once in a century health crisis, a budding trade war and a looming recession who had outspent all previous Prime Ministers.
The expense the welfare packages running long term came with a hefty price tag. Long term it was just not feasible even for the biggest bleeding hearts amongst us.
Which drove home the gravity of the situation, if Jobkeeper and Jobseeker continued for only the next quarter and the economy didn’t re-open to a certain extent by then…
On the 2nd of June, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told us what we already knew, Australia was in a recession.
On the 26th of May however the Prime Minister was focussed on the positives. Citing that with a hopeful completion of the 3 Step Plan by mid-July for re-opening the economy across the country there would hopefully be 850,000 jobs ultimately restored.
He did acknowledge the idea of flicking a switch and turning the economy back on was simply not plausible.
If there was hope to be found in the speech it was when he said “We should be encouraged that we have restored jobs and rebalanced our Budget before. So Australia, we have done this before and we can do it again, together.”
So many have suffered and they continue to hurt, right here and right now – lost jobs, reduced hours, seeing their family businesses shut, having to close those doors, or retirement incomes shrink. Loved ones kept apart.
Sue from Jimbooma, told me that other than a first home owners grant, she had never received a cent from the government. JobKeeper has saved her business, she said, and she just wanted to say thank you.
Anthony, not the one you’re thinking of, but quite genuinely Anthony from Western Australia, he sent me his wedding photo. His wife of 50 years had just passed away. He said his wife “was the most caring person you could ever meet” and he was absolutely heartbroken that he couldn’t give her the send-off she deserved. Of all the things, of all the decisions we have taken, that was undoubtedly the hardest.
And I received an email from three children in Western Australia that completely floored me, their father is terminally ill. They told me they understood their Dad’s funeral would have to be small. They wanted me to know they were ok with that – because it will help keep the hospitals available for other patients with cancers and diseases.
And I am praying for you every day too.