NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state’s focus on job creation in its economic response to COVID-19 was the right approach to recovering from Australia’s first recession in almost thirty years.
National account figures out yesterday indicated consumer and business confidence had fallen to their lowest levels on record, reflecting the combined impacts of the drought and bushfires, as well as the beginning of COVID-19 social distancing and travel restrictions. In NSW, ABS data showed NSW state final demand (SFD) fell by -1.5 per cent in the March quarter, the weakest result in 20 years.
Mr Perrottet said the figures were worrying but not unexpected given the impact the pandemic has had on spending, with household consumption down 1.6 per cent, partly offset by a 1.8 per cent increase in government financial support.
“Right from the start of this pandemic, we’ve said we’ve got to keep our infrastructure projects moving and keep people in jobs and businesses in business,” Mr Perrottet said. “That’s why our pipeline has increased to over $100 billion and this will be an infrastructure led recovery.”
“We’ve allocated almost $11 billion in self-funded stimulus support measures – more than any other state – and we’re committed to supporting projects that create jobs across NSW.”
Mr Perrottet said figures for the next quarter are unlikely to be much better and the end of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program in September is likely to see a further increase in unemployment.
“When hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs, we need to divert every dollar to create many more jobs through stimulus programs.”
“That’s why we need to hit the pause button on public sector pay rises so that we can get thousands of people off the Centrelink queues and back to work.”
“Household saving increases during times of crisis and a pay-rise would only boost that. What we really need right now is more jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“The only people who are unaware we are in a pandemic-induced recession is the NSW Labor party and they need to get with the program or get out of the way.”
The GDP result is expected to be just the start of bleak economic figures for the country, with the next set of national accounts figures due out in September.