Good afternoon. Pleased to be here with my friend and colleague, Mathias Cormann, the Finance Minister for his last Budget. COVID-19 has been an economic shock that’s hit the global economy and the Australian economy like no other. Globally, some 600 million people have lost their job and here in Australia, 10 per cent of our workforce either lost their job or saw their working hours reduced to zero. The Morrison Government responded with record, unprecedented levels of support, which helped cushion the blow and which helped save lives and livelihoods.
JobKeeper has been a $101 billion economic lifeline. Today, it is supporting more than 3.5 million Australian workers and their families. JobSeeker has helped cushion the blow for those who have lost their jobs. The cash flow boost at more than $30 billion is helping small businesses stay on their feet and helping them with working capital to continue to grow and to continue to keep their staff employed. $750 payments to millions of pensioners and carers and people on income support, Veterans, family tax benefits, they’ve all benefited from the Morrison Government’s economic response. Our Government was only able to respond the way we did with the fiscal firepower we had because Australia approached this economic crisis from a position of economic strength.
We balanced the budget for the first time in eleven years, unemployment came down from 5.7 per cent when we came to Government to 5.1 per cent in February. Welfare dependency was at a thirty-year low. We were able to spend as was necessary to save lives and livelihoods, with Treasury forecasting that those measures helped save 700,000 jobs.
Tonight’s Budget is our economic recovery plan. To rebuild the Australian economy and secure Australia’s future. It’s all about jobs. It’s all about helping those who are out of work, and those who are in a job, stay in a job. This Budget will create opportunity. This Budget will deliver investment. This Budget will grow the economy and guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on. This Budget will see Australia be a stronger country than before.
Now we are providing jobs in many ways. First, we’re helping to boost the demand across the country with tax cuts, for more than eleven and a half million Australians. We’ve brought forward by two years the tax cuts that were already legislated and we have added an extra year of the low and middle income tax offset. These tax cuts are backdated to 1 July. These tax cuts have put more money into people’s pockets, and that money will be spent across the economy and that money will help create jobs. Treasury’s estimate, some 50,000 jobs will be created as a result of those cash boosts. We’re also providing two, $250 payments to pensioners, to carers, to veterans, and to others who are on income support again, that money will be spent across the economy. Secondly, we’re enabling and encouraging business to hire, to invest, innovate and to grow, and we are doing that with two significant tax initiatives. Firstly, immediate expenses, which will see businesses with turnovers up to $5 billion, be able to immediately deduct any purchases of their business of any value. So this will see a farmer go buy a new harvester. This will see a manufacturer extend their production line. This will see the trucking company buy a new ride. And small business will be the major beneficiary of this initiative, because it will be small business that will buy, that will sell, that will maintain, that will deliver these new investments to boost the production capacity of the economy. We’re also announcing a loss carry back initiative which will allow businesses who were profitable businesses but through COVID-19, they have become loss making businesses to be able to offset those losses against previous profits. This will put more money into their pockets, they’ll be able to keep their staff, but also to undertake further investment. As you know, we’ve also announced ahead of this Budget other significant initiatives including around energy, for more affordable and reliable energy. Our manufacturing strategy which is absolutely going to drive jobs across the economy in key areas.
And you’ll see in this Budget as well, a real focus on research and development, a $2 billion initiative on research and development which again will serve growth and jobs across the economy. There’s also significant infrastructure projects in this Budget, some $14 billion of new and brought forward projects which will help create 40,000 jobs. There’s main projects across every state, but there’s also an initial $3 billion for smaller shovel ready projects for road safety as well as local projects. We’re also cutting significantly red tape and we’ve announced changes around insolvency and changes around provision of credit, very helpful to small businesses. What this Budget seeks to do is help Australians get into a job. And we do that with the reskilling initiatives, 50,000 short term courses. The announcements that we’ve made around new apprenticeships, 100,000 new apprenticeships that we recently made,
JobTrader program, 340,000 places and a billion dollars worth of support to create more jobs.
But in this Budget, there’s also a focus on helping those who have been on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, or a Parental Payment, and helping them getting to work by providing an incentive to a business to take them on. So if someone’s aged between 16 and 35, and they have been on JobSeeker, Parental Payment or Youth allowance and they’re an additional worker for a business. There’s two sets of tests, there’s a payroll test and a head count test and they’re undertaking more than 20 hours a week then they will see a boost from the Government and financial incentive to do that. It's Treasury’s forecast that supports up to 450,000 jobs. We’re undertaking all these initiatives and at the same time guaranteeing the essential services that people rely on. There’s record spending on schools and hospitals, there’s record spending in aged care with 23,000 additional home care packages. And of course, we’re continuing to fully fund the NDIS as it rolls out for already more than 400,000 Australians. And we’re doing all that without increasing taxes. And all these measures are consistent with Coalition’s values, helping those who need it, encouraging reward for effort, encouraging free enterprise and believing in the power of aspiration.
So this Budget is a very important document. It’s our economic recovery plan to get more people into work. There are some challenges ahead but what you can see in those numbers today is that the unemployment rate, while expected to reach a peak of 8 per cent in the December quarter, comes down consistently year on year, seven in a quarter, six and a half, six down to five and a half by mid-2030.That’s what we’re committed to do, getting Australians back into work.