Subject/s: Increase in unemployment in Australia, JobKeeper and JobSeeker figures;
DAVID KOCH: The latest unemployment figures have revealed a staggering cost of coronavirus - almost 600,000 people lost their jobs just last month. The unemployment rate is now at 6.2 per cent, up one per cent from March. Biggest hit was in New South Wales, 221,000 jobs lost there. Queensland, 129,000; Victoria, 127,000; WA, 62,000; South Australia, 40,000; 1.6 million people are also now on JobSeeker and more than 6 million on JobKeeper.
For more, I'm joined by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash. Minister, thanks for your time. They are just really ugly numbers, aren’t they? How much worse is this likely to get?
MINISTER CASH: Well, good morning, David, and good morning to all of your viewers. Look, yesterday was a really sobering day for all Australians. An increase in unemployment, it was obviously not unexpected due to the impact COVID-19. But Treasury does still estimate that unemployment is due to peak at around 10 per cent but they also, as you know, have stated that if the Government hadn't brought in its $130 billion JobKeeper program, it would have been at least five percentage points higher.
So, our job as a Government now, in particular, now that we have, as you know, that three-stage road to recovery, National Cabinet today will provide more guidance to Australians as to the easing of restrictions, the reopening of the economy, is to get as many Australians back into work. That's our goal.
DAVID KOCH: Look, six million on JobKeeper. You've got to keep it going. You’ve got - you’ve got it going officially ‘til the September.
MINISTER CASH: That’s correct.
DAVID KOCH: You can review at the end of next month. Any thoughts on extending it further if necessary?
MINISTER CASH: Our focus at the moment is to literally reopen the economy and get, as Treasury estimates, around 850,000 Australians back into work. As the Prime Minister has said, a $130 billion program, it now covers, David, around six million employees. They’ve maintained that connection with their employer, which is fantastic. We’re around seven weeks into the program. And as you know, there will be a review in June.
But at this point in time, my focus, as the Employment Minister, is on those people who
have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, getting that economy reopened and getting people back into work as quickly as possible.
DAVID KOCH: And the Treasurer was right yesterday. These are more than just numbers. These are individual families being put under enormous financial strain, which has a ripple effect on relationships and home violence, the whole thing; it’s just horrible. But the biggest under employment is the youth of Australia. The under 30s, the under 35s. Now, they make up a lot of the casual workforce, don't they? Hospitality, accommodation. How quickly are we going to ramp that up to get them all back to work?
MINISTER CASH: Look, in my home state of Western Australia, on Monday, David, I’m delighted. We actually move to 20 people, are allowed in a venue.
DAVID KOCH: When are the rest going to follow? The rest of the states?
MINISTER CASH: Well, I saw last night and today, New South Wales have moved; the front page of the NT Times, I’m not going to repeat it here. But you know, good on them. The pubs are reopening. National Cabinet …
DAVID KOCH: [Interrupts] Are the states putting a hand break though on it, some of them?
MINISTER CASH: Oh look, the Federal Government we’ve made our position very, very clear: reopen the economy safely, as quickly as possible because at four billion a week, that is what it is now costing us.
DAVID KOCH: Are they quick enough?
MINISTER CASH: Each state will do it at its own pace. We would like to see states move as fast as possible safely. I commend NT, I commend the Western Australian Government, and post-National Cabinet today, we will have much better guidance.
DAVID KOCH: What do you say to the Victorian Government?
MINISTER CASH: Oh look, I say to the Victorian Government, the faster you open your economy safely, the more people you move back into work. But that’s been the position of the Federal Government from day one.
DAVID KOCH: Michaelia Cash, thanks for joining us.
MINISTER CASH: Great to be with you, as always.