G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting
I would like to express my thanks to the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency for organising this meeting.
Policy adjustments to prepare for the recovery
As is the case in all of our countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected employment in Australia.
Before the crisis, Australia had record labour force participation and our unemployment rate was 5.2 per cent in March 2020. The most recent unemployment rate in July was 7.5 per cent.
At our meeting in April, I provided a summary of some of the measures that the Australian Government has taken in response to the pandemic.
Since that time, we have adjusted our measures to further support employment as circumstances have changed.
Through our recent mid-year Economic and Fiscal update, we committed to extend our main wage subsidy program, JobKeeper, through to March 2021.
We have also extended our Coronavirus Supplement income support payment, and provided further financial support to families and business.
In addition, we have made adjustments in response to outbreaks in specific regions, for example the state of Victoria where a one-off payment was introduced for specific workers instructed to self-isolate.
Going forward as we recover from the crisis, it will be crucial to ensure that the workforce is job ready. This includes making sure workers and job seekers are equipped with the skills employers demand.
Our Jobtrainer program will support job seekers into training in growth sectors and our Local Jobs program will reskill and match job seekers to jobs in demand at the regional level.
I am pleased that our declaration stresses the emphasis we are placing on supporting women to remain in work as part of our responses to the pandemic and preparations for the recovery.
Before the pandemic, Australia had achieved the Brisbane Goal, with a gap between male and female participation rates of 8.75 per cent in March 2020.
Women’s labour force participation has since fallen, but we are determined to increase it again.
Australia remains totally committed to achieving the Brisbane Goal by 2025, and I am looking forward to discussing our progress when we next meet.
Regarding the declaration
In closing, I am pleased to endorse the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Declaration.