SUBJECT: Labour Force Figures.
RICHARD MARLES DEPUTY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Labor wants Australians to have well-paid, secure jobs. And today’s headline unemployment rate will be cold comfort to the millions of Australians who are experiencing lockdown, and as a result, the thousands of Australians who are worried about their jobs. Today’s figures also revealed that in the month of June, there were 44,000 more Australians looking for work compared to the month of May, with the underemployment rate rising from 7.4 per cent to 7.9 per cent. But the most critical number, which underpins employment in Australia today, is the fact that only 10 per cent of the Australian public are fully vaccinated. And that is because of the failure of this government to properly vaccinate our population. It is as a result of that, that we see the lockdown in Sydney. It is as a result of that, that we see the extension of the restrictions in Queensland, it is as a result of that that we see the proposed lockdown in Victoria. Until we get the population fully vaccinated, we do not get to the other side of COVID-19. And because Scott Morrison said that vaccination was not a race, we are all living in the land of the lockdown, and that is a jobs killer.
JOURNALIST: Josh Frydenberg said that the unemployment rate is the lowest in a decade and highlights the resilience of the economy. What’s your response to that?
MARLES: I think if Josh Frydenberg and the government are congratulating themselves for the headline unemployment rate, they’re literally the only people in Australia doing so. Until we get to the other side of COVID-19, this government is not securing jobs. And it’s because Scott Morrison said that vaccinating Australia was not a race, that we are all now living in the land of lockdown and that is a jobs killer.
JOURNALIST: These figures don’t represent the jobs in Sydney, situation in Sydney with their lockdown. What do you think the next set of figures will look like with Sydney in lockdown is taken into consideration?
MARLES: Well, the figures today don’t take into account the totality of the lockdown that occurred in Melbourne. And they obviously don’t take into account at all the very profound lockdown that we have seen in New South Wales. And obviously these lockdowns are having a massive impact on employment in this country. We’re not securing jobs in Australia until we get the country properly vaccinated, and until we stop living in the land of the lockdown- and that is the job of Scott Morrison. And that is the job that he is so patently failed to do. Because Scott Morrison said that vaccinating Australia wasn’t a race. It is a race. It’s a race against the virus. And it’s actually a race to secure Australian jobs. And it’s a race that in the way in which Scott Morrison is managing it, Australia is currently losing.
JOURNALIST: It looks like Victoria will be heading into another lockdown. What sort of support from the federal government do you think the state requires?
MARLES: Well, what we need to see from the federal government is consistent policymaking and consistent support. Now what we’ve seen from the federal government is policy on the run. The government is budgeting for a lockdown in our capital cities every month- that’s in the budget papers. And what that means is that, at the time that JobKeeper came to an end in March, they knew they were going to be facing exactly this scenario. When they brought JobKeeper to an end, they should have been announcing then what the support was going to be for cities which experienced lockdown. Instead we’re seeing policy on the run. We’re seeing catch up footy being played by this government. And as a result, we’re seeing uncertainty for businesses. And we’re seeing uncertainty for workers who currently have their jobs put into question by virtue of these lockdowns. So we need support. We need support in relation to employment and wages. We need support for small business in respect of rental assistance. All of those need to be provided in a coherent way, where this government is not engaging in policy on the run. I mean, they are literally making it up as they’re going along because they are playing catch up footy.