Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Wednesday, 1 September 2021
Scott Emerson: Simon Birmingham is the Minister for Finance and Leader of the Government in the Senate, and he joins me on the line now. Minister, thanks for being on the show.
Simon Birmingham: Hello, Scott. It's always good to be with you.
Scott Emerson: Now, look, these figures are probably a bit better than most people were expecting, 0.7 per cent. But look, everyone would expect that they don't really take into the impact of the lockdowns that are happening at the moment in, say, New South Wales and Victoria and the ACT.
Simon Birmingham: Well Scott, it is right. These figures do show a particular period in time, and it's the quarter to the end of June this year. They show that once again, Australia's economy has exceeded pretty much all expectations. And we have done that time and time again throughout the pandemic. A demonstration that the economic supports put in place have worked effectively to keep Australian businesses strong, to minimise insolvencies, and to ensure that connection between jobs and employees and their employers and business is very, very strong as well, which has kept our employment figures up and our economic growth figures at the point where for the year, the financial year to the end of June this year, we've seen some 9.6 per cent growth in the Australian economy, an incredible rebound from the initial shocks of the pandemic. And this quarter that that ended in June was one in which we saw some 29 days across Australia where parts of the country were in lockdown. Five out of the eight different states or territories faced lockdowns during that period. So it wasn't without its challenges. But no doubt, the current quarter, the September quarter that we're now in is an even more challenging one with New South Wales in particular, having been in lockdown throughout this quarter. And that will reflect in in different ways and put challenges early on the next quarter to results. But I think these show we should have confidence in the resilience of the Australian economy. And just as we've bounced back from shocks throughout this pandemic, we will no doubt do so again once we get to the end of the current lockdowns.
Scott Emerson: Do you accept, as you said, we're in the September quarter finishing now. So given we've got the full impact of New South Wales and Victoria during that year, except that this quarter is likely to have seen negative growth?
Simon Birmingham: With the extent of constraints on economic activity in our two largest states. It will clearly have negative impacts and we will work through those-
Scott Emerson: Negative impacts, do you accept that it will be a negative growth in that quarter?
Simon Birmingham: Again, I'll leave that to the statisticians and economists to calculate. But those impacts seen our across our two largest states will be significant. And I suspect many would be very, very surprised if it weren't negative for the quarter that we're currently in. But we can see just how quickly Australia does bounce back and how effective the economic supports have been. So right now, we've got huge levels of economic support flowing into New South Wales and Victoria and other jurisdictions through other measures. The COVID disaster assistance payments are helping those who are losing hours of work and keeping them in a position where they're able to sustain their families and their mortgages and be able to come out the other side. Business support payments are helping businesses across New South Wales, Victoria, as well as being targeted programs we've undertaken with other states, including Queensland, to make sure that businesses who are affected in secondary waves from the lockdowns are receiving some assistance as well.
Scott Emerson: All right, Simon Birmingham, appreciate you being on the show this afternoon.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks Scott, my pleasure.