Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Wednesday, 29 April 2020
DAVID KOCH: A Senate committee has been told we are still on track for unemployment to reach double digits as the impact of coronavirus sees jobs lost quicker than during the Great Depression. The Treasury boss has also defended the speed of economic response, with $10 billion paid out in the last three weeks. $6 billion of that is people raiding their super. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg meantime will be making his first official Budget announcement in five months on May 12. Joining us now is Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Minister, thanks for joining us. When the Treasurer makes his economic statement in May, it’s going to be pretty ugly. What is your forecast for a peak in unemployment?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Treasury has provided advice that they expect unemployment to peak at 10 per cent. That is after we have put all of these support measures into the economy supporting business and supporting people to remain in their jobs. In the absence of the measures that we have taken it would have been as high as 15 per cent.
DAVID KOCH: Yeah, JobKeeper, 540,000 applications from businesses, covering 3.3 million workers. I thought that was pretty good, because you budgeted for six million workers to be on JobKeeper. Is this a sign that maybe we are coping a bit better than we feared?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is probably too early to tell. We had an initial flurry of applications and the applications are still steadily coming in. Hopefully we won't require quite as much support through JobKeeper as we had anticipated. That would be good news. At this stage it is too early to tell.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. You have put the budget back from May, back to October. If the economy gets back to work sooner than expected, is there a chance you might bring that October Budget forward a bit to give us a better update or will you keep reporting back to us?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We continue to report back to the public all the way through. I am releasing monthly financial statements, providing an update on where the Budget position is at compared to our last Budget update. We will be making a ministerial statement, the Treasurer and I in the House of Representatives and the Senate on the 12th of May and we are planning to provide an update in terms of the economic and fiscal outlook in June after the March quarter national accounts have released in early June. The Budget timetable is set for early October. The reason we have shifted the budget is because there was just too much uncertainty to enable realistic and sensible forecasting in the lead up to a May Budget, but we are providing updates on the way through.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. Monthly update will be absolutely pleasing to the markets. Alright, Mathias. Thank you for that.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.