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G20 Extraordinary Leaders and Ministerial meeting

Videoconference

23 April 2020

I would like to express my thanks to the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency for organising this meeting.

It is critical that we share the actions we are taking to meet the G20 Leaders’ commitment to do whatever it takes to protect the health of our citizens and our economies.

What we are doing

As of today, there have been 6 661 cases of COVID-19 in Australia. Of this, 5 045 people have recovered and there were 75 deaths. More than 466 000 tests have been conducted across Australia.

The Australian Government has focused its health measures on “flattening the curve”.

The measures we are taking are intended to be sustainable for at least six months.

Australia has committed the equivalent of over 16 per cent of GDP to fighting the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

This includes funding for the health system, increased assistance to people out of work and support for businesses.

As is the case in all of our countries, Australia’s employment rate has suffered since the onset of the pandemic.

A significant number of Australian workers and business owners now need assistance, many for the first time in their careers.

The Australian labour market was strong as we went into COVID-19.  Record numbers of Australians were in employment and a record number of Australians were in full-time employment.

I’d like to highlight some of the key measures we are taking to support employment.

Through the JobKeeper program, a direct subsidy is being provided to affected business of $1,500 per employee per fortnight for up to 6 months.

This will keep workers connected with their employer, and provide more certainty during these challenging times.

Around 900,000 businesses registered for this payment, and official estimates indicate that it may reduce the increase in unemployment by 5 percentage points. 

We are also supporting apprenticeships through a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of each apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid up until a maximum of $21,000.

And we have established a new, time-limited, Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight for many categories of income support recipients.

To support the recovery, reskilling is also a particular focus through a package that includes funding for short courses, as well as financial relief for universities and vocational education providers.

In summary, the Australian Government’s economic support measures are temporary, targeted and proportionate to the challenge we face, and will ensure Australia bounces back stronger.

September G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting

I would also like to look ahead to the regular meeting of G20 Labour and Employment Ministers scheduled for September.

This meeting will be an opportunity to assess our progress and consider additional actions to aid the recovery.  

In doing so, we should continue to maintain a focus on achieving our common G20 Brisbane and Antalya Goals to reduce the gaps in opportunities facing women and youth.

Women and youth are likely to be particularly vulnerable as a result of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.

Regarding the ministerial statement

In closing, I would like to thank the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency for preparing the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers statement on COVID-19.

On behalf of Australia, I endorse the statement.

Thank you.