‘Budget to keep more Australians employed amid Covid-19 recession’

Australia’s federal budget, scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday, was aimed at keeping more citizens employed amid the coronavirus-induced recession, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Monday.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corportation (ABC), he said that the economic recovery could be long, slow and with persistently high unemployment, while indicating that there will be substantial government support until joblessness is “comfortably under 6 per cent”.

“Unemployment tends to go up the elevators and come down the stairs,” he told the ABC.

“In the 1980s (recession), it took six years to get unemployment back below 6 per cent from where they started.

“And in the 1990s, it took 10 years to get it below 6 per cent from where they started. We’re hoping to move faster than that, and that’s why in this budget, you’ll see more economic activity as a result of our initiatives, creating more jobs,” Frydenberg was quoted as saying.

Regarding Tuesday’s budget, which will see immense spending across all sectors of the economy, the Treasurer said: “The economy does need it. There are still major challenges ahead and the road is hard. But there is also cause for optimism and hope. We’ve seen the economy fighting back.

“In the last three months, 458,000 jobs have been created 60 per cent of which have gone to women, 40 per cent to young people.

“So outside of Victoria, jobs are being created. And once you can suppress the virus, the restrictions can be eased and more people can get back to work.”

Also on Monday, the government unveiled a new initiative to provide a wage subsidy to encourage the creation of new apprenticeships and traineeships, the ABC reported.

This comes at a cost of A$1.2 billion, capped at 100,000 places, and is on top of an existing A$2.8 billion investment in training and apprenticeships that includes a 50 per cent wage subsidy for existing workers.

Frydenberg told the ABC that he hoped the new initiative will stimulate employment growth and create an extra 100,000 jobs over the next 12 months.