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Source: Australian Treasurer

SCOTT EMERSON:

Treasurer, thanks for being on Summer Breakfast.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning Scott, and nice to be with you and your listeners.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Thank you, Treasurer.  Now look, just before we get to the numbers in the MYEFO, the situation in Sydney, we’ve been told by Gladys Berejiklian really to brace for disturbing numbers today. How concerned are you about the outbreak on the Northern Beaches? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s a developing situation, but the question’s never been, Scott, whether there will be new coronavirus cases in Australia. The question has always been how will we respond to them. And we know that New South Wales has had a very good track record when it comes to contact tracing and testing, and yesterday they undertook more than 10,000 tests. They’ve asked around a quarter of a million Sydneysiders to stay in their homes for the next three days.  And they’re putting in place a comprehensive response so that they can get to the source of these new cases, and then they can contain them, because our economic recovery very much depends on our ability as a nation, and the states and the territories’ abilities to actually suppress the virus when it arises.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Now, you say economic recovery and you look at the MYEFO yesterday. They were good numbers.  But the forecasts were based on a number of things.  It acknowledged that there would be more cases of COVID, but clearly it was also predicated on no more border lockdowns, a vaccine being rolled out, hopefully a restart of international travel. All those things potentially could be in doubt now with this breakout on the Northern Beaches.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We made a number of conservative assumptions. For example, around the iron ore price, today it’s around $150 and we put it in the Budget as getting down to $55 by around September next year. When it comes to a vaccine, we said the rollout wouldn’t be nationwide until the end of next year, and as you know, we’ve seen some very positive developments in recent weeks with the vaccine. When it comes to international borders, we’ve assumed that they will remain largely closed throughout next year and that tourism and international students will only start up slowly.  So we have been conservative. Now, when it comes to state borders, we had assumed back in the Budget 10 weeks ago, the state borders would be open by Christmas but for Western Australia which we thought would open by April of next year. But we recently saw Western Australia open up just recently. So we changed that assumption for the update yesterday. But we have seen these new cases in New South Wales. I have a lot of faith in the New South Wales health system and their ability to get to the bottom of it, but we are watching it obviously very closely.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Overnight here in Queensland the Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young and Annastacia Palaszczuk, they announced the hot spot for the Northern Beaches. What would your message be to the Queensland Premier today regarding how they react to the Northern Beaches, given in the past obviously we’ve seen a lockdown of the borders? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, obviously the response needs to be very targeted, and focussing on a hot spot does represent that. It has to be proportionate to the challenge we face, and we have to continue to think about the impact that some of these closures have, not just on the economy but also on people’s lives. We have seen real momentum and the good news for Queensland is jobs are coming back.  Jobs are coming back in other states as well. Just yesterday we saw 90,000 new jobs being created over the last month, 84,000 of which were full time. We’ve seen two million fewer Australian workers on JobKeeper in the month of October compared to the month prior in September. All of that data is very positive, but the future is challenging and we know that next year will be another hard year and the road to recovery is going to be long and pretty bumpy as well, because if you look at the global situation, Scott, many nations are seeing second and third waves of cases. Some have been going back into lockdown. So what we have done here in Australia has been a really good team effort, a team Australia effort from all parts of the economy, all parts of the country to get Australia into the position where the recovery is now well underway.

SCOTT EMERSON:

Well, you say a ‘team effort’ and they were good numbers nationally. Here in Queensland unfortunately we did lose 20,000 jobs. We saw the participation rate even fall as people gave up looking for work. What is Queensland not doing well enough compared to the rest of Australia? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we have seen, in Queensland, a lot of jobs coming back from the height of this crisis.  What we need to do is encourage those sectors and provide opportunities for those sectors which were hit pretty hard, and in Queensland’s case it was the tourism sector, it was the aviation sector and other, hospitality sector that were hit pretty hard early on in the pandemic as those health restrictions would be in place.  So providing support for those sectors is important. We have JobKeeper tapering off by the end of March but we have a whole lot of other measures that are in place, Scott, to support the economy next year. The tax cuts are starting to flow to 11.5 million Australians. We have put in place the JobMaker Hiring Credit which will provide an incentive to employers to take on young people who have been out of work. We have brought forward a number of infrastructure projects which will help create jobs, we’re providing a wage subsidy to employers who take on apprentices which will help create 100,000 new apprentices and we’re putting a real emphasis on skills and training right across the economy. So all of those economic support measures, together with the business investment incentives, should provide continued momentum for the economy into next year.

SCOTT EMERSON:

All right. Josh Frydenberg, thank you for joining us on Summer Breakfast on 4BC.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Thanks Scott

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