Question Without Notice: COVID-19 Economic Stimulus for Young People and Women
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, women and young people have been hardest hit by the economic fallout of this pandemic, with higher rates of job losses than the rest of the population. What is the government doing to ensure that economic stimulus spending is targeting job creation for both young people and women?
Mr PALLAS (Werribee—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for the Coordination of Treasury and Finance: COVID-19): I would like to thank the member for Prahran for his question. There is no doubt and he is absolutely correct to say that this pandemic has affected cohorts of the community in different ways. There is also no doubt that women, young people and the unskilled tend to be those that have been hit the greatest as a consequence of this. We know that often not only have the responsibilities of women in terms of their caring obligations within the home peaked but also many of the jobs and industries that they operate in have been particularly difficult and hard hit. We have been very conscious of this as the government is putting together the processes for reopening. Indeed the Premier has on a number of occasions made it clear that we are seeking as best we can to get female occupations back into work so that there is a sharing of the opportunity as the opening up improves. That will be very much a focus of what we do.
In a broader sense what the government is doing is recognising that the effort and the investment that will need to be made going forward will be a central theme of our budget and our economic recovery. It will be, as the Premier has indicated, focused very much on jobs, and of course those who have been most adversely affected as a consequence of lost employment and opportunities have been women. We have seen in the latest ABS statistics slightly less than but around about a 5 per cent drop in terms of hours worked, and that is a demonstration that the entire community has seen a falling away of economic opportunity. From the government’s perspective we will be focusing very much on jobs and skill acquisition so that on the economic upswing there will be opportunities for women and for young people, who of course will bear the long-term brunt of this economic event, because there will be a need to get them into employment and give them the opportunity to reconnect with the world of work.
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): I thank the Treasurer for his answer. A recent report by the Australia Institute found that government investment in education, health care and social services is the most effective way to create jobs overall but most importantly for women. Will the government invest in long-term secure jobs in the caring economy as part of its economic stimulus spending?
Mr PALLAS (Werribee—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for the Coordination of Treasury and Finance: COVID-19): Thanks very much for the question yet again. The government recognises that it will need to make investments in these areas. If you look at our long-term history of investment, we have continued to make more and more investment in our caring communities and caring industries. If anything, this event has demonstrated that a continuing of that effort and an improvement in that effort will be required, and we will do it. We will invest in skills. We will very much be conscious of the fact that women and young people have made a disproportionate contribution to the fight against the pandemic, and they will be a central focus of the government’s efforts going forward.