Questions Without Notice: The Economy

19 October 2023

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (14:12): My question is to the Treasurer. What are today's job figures, and what do they mean for the challenges, obstacles and uncertainty the Australian economy faces?

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin—Treasurer) (14:13): I appreciate the question from the member for Cunningham, who is an absolute champion for the workers and employers of that beautiful part of Australia in the Gong. Today we heard that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6 per cent and that 6,700 new jobs were created in our economy. These numbers today show that 561,000 jobs have been created under this Albanese Labor government. This means that more jobs have been created under the Albanese government than any other first-term government on record—and we're only halfway through the term.

Mr Violi interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Casey will cease interjecting.

Dr CHALMERS: Since these monthly records began in 1978, the unemployment rate has had a three in front of it only 19 times, and 16 times it's been under this Prime Minister and under this government. This is another record. Today's result shows the unemployment rate remained around historic lows—as I said, 3.6—and the participation rate was 66.7, which is a near-record high.

We welcome today's results because they come at a time of serious global economic uncertainty and pressure being felt around the kitchen tables of this country. We know that the global economic environment is difficult, with what's happening in China, a war in Europe and now a conflict in the Middle East. We know, in our own domestic economy, that, as a consequence of the interest rate rises which are already in the system, we've seen consumption slow and we've seen retail slow. Most important of all, we know that Australians are under pressure. That is why the primary focus of this government is rolling out $23 billion in cost-of-living relief for Australians who are doing it tough.

We know that a really important part of being there for people doing it tough is to make sure that we are creating good jobs and that people are being paid a decent wage. That's why what the skills minister and the Prime Minister announced this week is so important—because better training equals better pay, and that's a central part of our employment white paper. We know that a good job is central, and that's why it's such an important part of our plans to take some of the edge off these cost-of-living pressures.

The government is working for Australia, and, as a consequence of that, more Australians are working. We've seen that in the numbers today. Under the Albanese government, despite all of the challenges coming at us in the economy and from around the world, more people are in work than ever before. Workplace participation is near record highs, wages are growing at the fastest rate in around a decade and more jobs have already been created under this government than any other government on— (Time expired)