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PM Scott Morrison quizzed on ‘peak’ of unemployment rate


Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it’s “hard to say” whether unemployment will keep rising in Australia as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease and jobs return.

The national unemployment rate unexpectedly fell from a high of 7.5 per cent in July to 6.8 per cent in August, as revealed in Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Thursday.

Mr Morrison was asked on Sunday by Insiders host David Speers whether it had “peaked”.

“Well it’s a bit hard to say, on the measured rate, I must say and there are conflicting views,” the Prime Minister said.

“The figures that came out this week were a pleasant encouragement in terms of their improvement but for those who still don’t have a job, that is no comfort to them.

“They’re still out of work and we need to get them into a job.”

Speers interjected: “But has it peaked now? What’s your view? What’s your sense of it?”

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Mr Morrison said he was “pleased” that more than 400,000 jobs had returned.

“I think we’re going to see more jobs come back over the next three months,” he said.

Speers interjected again: “So it might have peaked? It might have peaked Prime Minister?”

“David, I’m trying to answer the question, if you’d let me answer the question,” Mr Morrison replied.

“I’m saying there are going to be more jobs come back in.

“The measured rate of unemployment will depend on how many people, what the participation rate is, and all of those things.”

You can watch the exchange in the video player above.

Mr Morrison expects hundreds of thousands of people to return to work by late December.

“Particularly if we get this next step right in Victoria,” he said.

“The number of jobs went backwards in Victoria in the last month. We’ll see Victoria bounce back, that’ll add to the national jobs growth.

“Now, where the actual measured level of unemployment is by Christmas, it’s hard to say at the moment I’ve got to say, I hope it’s lower, but at the moment it’s hard to say where the course of the pandemic is.

“It’s not just about what’s happening in Australia, it’s also about what’s happening around the world.

“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic recession and so Australia’s growth is also going to be affected by that and they’re issues that are well beyond our control.”

Speers asked Mr Morrison about Treasury modelling of the economic impact of reductions to JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy will be slashed from $1500 to $1200 per fortnight from September 28.

“We are extending the JobKeeper payment, we are extending that out till the end of March,” Mr Morrison said earlier this month.

“We are extending the JobSeeker payment out to the end of December.”

On Insiders, he said: “You don’t have to hold onto every measure forever.”

“There are other measures that come in and pick up from where other measures left off.

“And we’re transitioning JobKeeper, it’s important to do that, we always said it was not something that would be around forever.”

He said there are a “range of measures” within the Federal Budget 2020-2021, to be handed down on October 6, “which are going to be pro-boosting aggregate demand in our economy.”



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