Press Conference - Australian Parliament House, ACT

11 May 2020
Prime Minister

2:27 PM

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, everyone, on this brisk Canberra morning. Right here, right now is where our Government's focus is. Australians dealing with some of the hardest times in their lives. Across the country that is, of course, the case when in relation to COVID-19. But for many, many months now and much longer than that for our rural communities, they've been dealing with these hardships. The drought that has gone on for years, the floods some 18 months ago up in North Queensland, of course, the bushfires that devastated communities in the country earlier this summer during that black summer. While in recent times, of course, over the last several months, what you have heard predominantly from the Government, particularly from here, has been necessarily our response to COVID-19, fighting the virus, putting the economic lifeline in place. And last week, setting out that roadmap of the three steps that take us back to a COVID safe economy.

All through this time, though, the work of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and its sister organisation in the drought and the flood recovery agencies have been doing some sensational work and working on the ground to deliver the supports that we said would be there. Earlier this year, we announced the establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. We committed $2 billion to the work of that agency to be delivered on the ground. $500 million was expected to be spent over the course of the first six months of that agency. I can tell you that that bill now is likely to exceed a billion dollars by the time we get the bills in from all the states and territories by the 30th of June this year. And on top of that, there's a further around half a billion dollars in support payments that have been paid through disaster assistance and the like. So around one and a half billion dollars of Commonwealth support going directly to support local businesses, local householders, people in desperate need of financial assistance, mental health support. The list goes on and it should because the impact of those bushfires was absolutely devastating and a day has not passed in our Government where those issues have not been getting the attention that they deserve as a high priority. And I want to particularly commend Minister Littleproud and AJ, as he's known, for the great work that they've been doing in just keeping the focus on these important areas of focus for the Government in delivering this support. 

Local councils, small business, primary producers, wildlife recovery, some $50 million already delivered in that area, specifically, the mental health support, childcare, financial counselling, cleanup costs, support for the tourism industry. And as we've gone about this process on the ground, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency has been working closely with state and local governments, been working closely with local communities. And we've been listening and we've been adapting the programs to meet the needs that were there. One of the key issues that needed to change was how we were delivering grant support to small businesses. And so we put in place in early March a new program to support small businesses, which was the small business support grants of $10,000. 17,471 small, medium-sized businesses have now received those $10,000 grants. Some $174 million has gone out the door to support them and that's been a real game-changer is the feedback that we've received. And we're pleased that having adapted that program, the other program continued for the higher amounts and there's over $30 million that has also been provided through that program. So overall, some $200 million in assistance has gone out to those small businesses. 

On the issue of cleanups, which I know was of great interest to those who are particularly in the affected areas, this is a program that has been run by the states but has been joint funded by the Commonwealth. South Australia, I'm advised, is almost all the way through. New South Wales will have completed their cleanup works, we anticipate, by the end of June and for Victoria that will be some time in August. Overall, about a third of the cleanup job has been done. There's a lot of time in preparing for the cleanup, and so that is what was taking some considerable time earlier on in the cleanup phase. But states are in a better position to go through those issues, working through safe clearances of properties, asbestos issues, those types of things. But once it's got up and running, it started to move very quickly and the Commissioner can take you through more of that information. Of that $2 billion, some $1.3 billion or thereabouts, just over that $1.35 billion, had already been committed. And the balance now of $650 million has been committed into a series of programs, which I'll ask Minister Littleproud to take you through. But the nature of that investment really does go to the recovery phase. Communities, individuals, businesses will respond and seek assistance on their own timetable. You certainly get a wave of need for that support initially after the disaster, but it doesn't stop there and what we've seen, particularly with the disaster relief payments, they have continued after an earlier peak and they've been maintained at a fairly constant level as when people get into the next phase of how they're adjusting will reach out and seek that support. And one of the great things that Commissioner Colvin has done is to ensure that he's connecting people with this support. One of the reasons I'm pleased by the fact that we will have more than doubled what we anticipated spending by the 30th of June is you can design programs and you can provide support, but it's in its delivery that really matters. And to be able to double our expectations of what we're able to get out the door and to support communities, I think is a real testament to the great work that the Commissioner Colvin and the Minister have done, connecting people up with that support. 

The initial shock and trauma of going through a crisis such as this can leave you just standing there, devastated, unable to reach out and connect the supports that are available. And so that's been the work of the recovery agency, working with state and territory organisations and charitable organisations, to take that support and connect it to people on the ground. And so they've done a tremendous job in doing that. So I'm going to ask Minister Littleproud to take you through the $650 million in assistance and supports. It focuses very much on the recovery, local recovery plans, investing in what's happening on the ground in areas, whether it's in the snowy areas or the parts of New South Wales or Victoria, Kangaroo Island. The mental health support that is needed and ongoing, the work that is needed to support the forestry industry. There's another $150 million going into our wildlife recovery plan. The first $50 million is pretty much all out the door and we always said that was a down payment. So some 10 per cent of what we're spending as a Government to support the recovery from the bushfires is about restoring and supporting wildlife throughout those areas that were so terribly burned and scarred throughout the course of the bushfires. And then there's also the support for telecommunications. So this has been a comprehensive initiative by the NBRA, and I thank them for their work and I'll ask Minister Littleproud to take you through those announcements. 

Thanks, David.

THE HON. DAVID LITTLEPROUD MP, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, DROUGHT AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Thanks, Prime Minister. And despite the COVID crisis, I can assure you that A.J. and his team have not taken the foot off the accelerator. We've continued to engage with the community and made sure that they understand they are not forgotten. They are part of this whole plan of getting them back up on their feet as we move from immediate relief in getting them some dignity and respect, now to a longer term recovery. And we've always said we wanted this to be locally led, not Canberra-led, and we want to build back better. And the best people to make that determination are those that have been impacted themselves. 

So the centrepiece of what we're announcing today is nearly $450 million around local economic recovery plans. We're empowering those communities to tell us, to tell us how they need to rebuild, what will get them back up on their feet, what will build their communities, their lives better, and we'll empower them to make that determination. And that will be different in each community. We don’t want a cookie cutter approach. We want to empower those people to make those determinations, allow them to get to that point of telling their government exactly what recovery looks like and what resilience into the future looks like. So we'll continue now to work with state governments to make sure that those local economic recovery plans are rolled out in a calm, methodical way that listens to the community and understands the community's needs. That's the most important thing that we can do. And I think there'll be great learnings for future disasters in how we roll this out. This is the first time the government's undertaken, and that's an important aspect. 

Another significant contribution out of this fund is nearly $150 million towards rehabilitating habitat. Our first $50 million was about looking after the species that were endangered and threatened by this fire. We're now rebuilding their habitat, nearly $150 million to go into building that environment for them to recover, along with the communities that support them. So that's an important aspect of this plan in understanding that, in fact, the environment plays a significant role in our tourism sector in a lot of these parts of the world. And it's important we make that investment because the flow on benefits economically are just as great as those that we are making environmentally. 

I’ve also understood the significant impact that the forestry industry is under, has copped through this. So there's $15 million to partner with our state colleagues in helping pay for some of the freight costs and salvaging some of the timber that's out there, to keep that industry up and going and to protect the jobs that are there. There'll be more work that's required, particularly in the forestry industry. It's not a commodity where you can plant a crop and you get to sow it in, and get to harvest it in 12 months. It takes time. We've got to work continually through with that industry to make sure that that recovery is looked at strategically and will work with the states on that. 

Another significant piece is over $27 million in telecommunications. And one of the real gaps that we found during this crisis was at points our telecommunication systems didn't support the need during a crisis. And so we're working with telcos around more mobile phone towers, but also satellite dishes and putting in new batteries to build back that infrastructure better, understanding what we need to do to protect the lives of Australians in future disasters. And that's an important aspect that we've learnt from this and we will continue to work with the telcos. 

But one of the most important aspects to this plan, and while not the greatest amount, is the $13 odd million dollars that we're putting into mental health. There is a fragility out there and there is Australians that are healing at different stages. And we've seen the convergence of drought and fire, COVID-19. And there is a lot bearing down on these people. And we need to understand they are all at different stages of that healing process. And so we are empowering the local primary health networks to tailor mental health programs for their communities, not that are tailored out of Canberra or out of Melbourne or Sydney, but out of the local communities, because each will have specific needs. So it's important we listen and understand and they and they understand those people that the Australian government will stand shoulder to shoulder with them. And there is no stigma in asking for help because that help will be there. It'll be there for you right now and into the future, because if we can repair your lives, then we will repair our nation quicker from this. You are a significant contribution, significant contributor to our economy and we look after you. So this is as comprehensive as we can make it, but it's always been on the premise of making sure it's a locally led recovery, not a Canberra led recovery. And we will be building back better.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. I’ll ask Mr Colvin to speak to the work of the NBRA.

ANDREW COLVIN APM OAM, NATIONAL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY COORDINATOR: Good morning, everybody. Thank you. Prime Minister. Thank you, Minister. This is a really good day for bushfire affected communities across Australia. I think it signals to them what we've been saying for some time now that while obviously we have challenges of COVID-19, the bushfire communities have not been forgotten. In the four months since the National Bushfire Recovery Agency was established, we've been travelling the length and breadth of bushfire affected and bushfire scarred communities from central Queensland, Rockhampton, Yeppoon in the north, all down the coast of New South Wales in Victoria and of course, Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island. We've heard a lot of stories. We've heard a lot of the grief and the trauma. We've also heard incredible stories of heroism and hope and the fact that the communities want to work with each other, want to work with us, want to work with their state and local governments to make sure that the recovery is the best recovery that it can be, across the breadth of those bushfire impacted communities there is now around 100 triggered local government, local government areas for disaster recovery. That's at a scale that we haven't seen before. And we've been working very hard with all of those communities. And as you've heard this morning already, the thing that has stood out the most to me in all of our engagements is there are no two communities that are the same, in fact, even within local government areas. There's no two small groups of people whose recovery pathway will be the same. Disasters of this nature impact individuals in very different ways. And the recovery from that is very individualistic. So I'm really pleased today that the recovery that has been announced by the government is locally led, and I'm pleased that the government have agreed that we need to make this driven from the bottom up, because that's the story that we keep hearing. I'm really excited by some of the proposals that have been announced today, particularly those ones around mental health and wellbeing. It's a constant message we keep hearing from the government. The funding today on top of the money that's already been announced will go direct to the local community, the local government areas who have been saying to us time and time again that they need to do this at a local level. We're really pleased to see that environment continues to be a big issue. And the Minister has spoken about telecommunications as one of the first issues raised with me in my officers as we travel around is the need for our communications networks to be resilient and robust at the time of emergency. And, of course, economic recovery. We know that everyone's economy is different, but we also know from our analysis that these bushfires have hit in a disproportionately large way our forestry sector, our tourism sector, our agriculture sector. Now, we're working very hard with our state and territory partners to make sure that the recovery can be led in those sectors. And we know that of the damage that's been done, the economic damage across the bushfire impacted zones, around about 80 per cent of it is zeroed in on the top 30 LGA’s of that 100, so we know that we've got a deal of work ahead of us and we know where we need to focus our energy. But every local government area will get an opportunity to work with us and get an opportunity to receive funding out of these measures. So I'm really excited by the announcement today. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Now, I don't plan to go round to everybody, there’s quite a crowd here today. So I'm just, Phil?

JOURNALIST: Can I ask on China?

PRIME MINISTER: If we can just do bushfires first, I’m happy to go to the other matters. You can ask one on bushfires.

JOURNALIST: You’ve spent a billion dollars already, twice, twice as much anticipated. Does that indicate you might have to spend more than the 2 billion through this process? And then can I ask a China one as well? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, just let me deal with bushfires first. I'm pleased that we've been able to get so much support out so quickly, whether it's been particularly those small business programs of over $200 million, and to be able to learn the lessons early and to be able to change the program and deliver. And I want to thank those on the ground who gave us a lot of good feedback on how to get that program right, whether we need to commit more. Well, we'll happily receive submissions from the minister. I said that we will spend what it takes to get these communities back on their feet. $2 billion at this point is proving to be very comprehensive. And as I said, there's another $500 million already by the 30th of June, which has gone out in those disaster recovery payments. And we expect that to continue as well. So we will spend, well more than $2 billion. And I suspect we'll sooner spend it earlier than we had anticipated. And that's just a sign that we've been more successful in connecting people up to the programs. But, you know, we are very open to that Phil. But on the other matter?

JOURNALIST: The draft decision by the Chinese to impose the tariffs on barley, do you see that as retribution for, you know, for us pushing for the review into the outbreak of the virus? 

PRIME MINISTER: No, I don't. This is a program that's been going on for 18 months. This review, it's been a subject that I've raised at the various meetings that I've had with the Chinese leadership, including Premier Li Keqiang last year. It's been an ongoing issue between our two countries and we have seen the level of trade of barley into China fall from 1.7 billion down to 600 million. So I think it's, it would be, I think we have to be careful not to draw lines between these two things. We would expect and hope that this issue will be determined on its merits. It's an anti-dumping issue from the Chinese perspective. They certainly haven't raised it as connected to any other issues. And I'd be extremely disappointed if it was. But there's no reason for me to think, based on the way that they're approaching it, that I could draw that conclusion. It's important that we just deal with this on its merits, as we have been for some time now. We believe that trade is incredibly important and beneficial for both countries. Anti-Dumping regimes we respect, we have anti-dumping regimes here. We have had anti-dumping inquiries in relation to Chinese products into Australia. And not all of those decisions have been well received, but they've been made on the merits. And I would hope and expect that China would do the same thing.

JOURNALIST: Just on the, the opposition has been talking again about JobKeeper-

PRIME MINISTER: Why don’t we just do a few on bushfires, if there are questions on bushfires have to do that. I'm happy to come back to all the other issues that are out there, Lanai?

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there have been reports this morning that the original lot of money in relation to the bushfires was not getting out and getting into bank accounts quick enough. Will you commit to that occurring? And just on another issue in relation to JobKeeper. There have been calls this morning for that to be extended post the current time?

PRIME MINISTER: Let’s just deal with the bushfires. Andrew, did you want to speak to the issue of the timing, I mean, what we've said today is that we thought we'd get $500 million out and we've got more than a billion out. So I think that addresses that and significantly on the basis of the changes that were made to programs. But when it came to the disaster recovery payments, those are the payments made to individuals, those immediate cash support. I mean, that was going out with those who were connected to the real time payment system within half an hour. So some of that support was going out in record time. Others, particularly on small business, there were issues with that. That's why we changed the program. 

ANDREW COLVIN APM OAM, NATIONAL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY COORDINATOR: Thank you and thank you for the question. Look, we're working very hard to make sure there is no blockage and there are no blockages to how this money rolls out. And we are finding that the money is getting into individuals and businesses pockets very quickly. Over 18,000 businesses now have had money. And in some instances there has been less than a 24 hour turnaround from the point of application. In fact, of that 18,000, or 17,400 businesses that have received the $10000 grant, there's only been about 17,000 applications. So it's a small amount that haven't received it. And I'm sure they will receive it very shortly. So money is flowing. Over 260,000 individuals have received the DRA and the DRP. We know that there's just over 1,500, I think 1,700 farmers have received the primary producer grants, so money is flowing out. Of course, what we do is every time we hear about an individual or a business that for whatever reason is struggling to get themselves through the process, we take those cases up individually and that's why we've adjusted the programs as well. The Prime Minister has talked about adjusting the small business program. We've adjusted all of the programs to make sure that the policy intent is being reached. So we're happy to take on individual cases and look at it. But I think money is flowing quite well.

JOURNALIST: And just on JobKeeper?

PRIME MINISTER: I'll come back to that. 

JOURNALIST: Some of the people in these communities have been living surrounded by rubble and debris for months now. Who do you blame for that?

PRIME MINISTER: This has been a very difficult program, I think, for the state's rollout. And Andrew, again, might want to comment on this. I referred to it earlier. They are about a third of the way through now and we're funding half of the project. But the project is actually run by the states and territories, the Commonwealth doesn't run those projects. And I'm pleased to learn also in the briefs that I've received that more than half, well over half that workforce that is actually doing the cleanup work is actually local contractors and suppliers as well. And I welcome that as well, because part of the rebuilding process is also aiding in the economic recovery process on the ground as well. And I really welcome that. The early phases in dealing with some of the OH&S issues, asbestos issues, they had to be worked through and they have been worked through. And now a third of the way through the program, in South Australia's almost done. New South Wales will be done by the end of June and Victoria by August. But Andrew?

ANDREW COLVIN APM OAM, NATIONAL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY COORDINATOR: Yeah PM, I think the states are doing a remarkable job of trying to cleanup as many sites as I can quickly. Yes, it took a little bit of time at the start. But I think we also need to recognise that, I've visited many of these sites, many of these locations. It's not always a nice flat suburban area that they're trying to cleanup. A lot of these are rural properties or a lot of them are on very inaccessible land. And we know asbestos and other contaminants are an issue. I think things are moving very quickly now. And anyone who is living on, on a who is displaced or who is still living in it in a tent, I’ve heard situations like that. The states are working very hard to make sure that they're not. And I know that every person who has been displaced from their home has been given the offer of temporary accommodation.

JOURNALIST: PM, a whole of government response to a question on notice released this morning stated that only $538 million has been released from the $2billion Bushfire Recovery Fund. So what is the rest of that money making up to the $1 billion? And within that question on notice, it wasn't just demand driven service programs that hadn't got the money out of the door. Things like rural financial counsellors had zero money released so far. And that's not entirely demand-driven. Where's that billion coming from?

PRIME MINISTER: I can tell you it's in rural financial counselling, it's in childcare subsidies, it's in mental health for school communities, it's in wildlife and habitat recovery. It's an international search support. It's in tourism, but a large part of what is still to come relates to the payments to the states for the site cleanups. Those items will be billed separately and they are hundreds of millions of dollars. And so what you're seeing already and what's actually been paid out and is expected to be paid out shortly is across all the areas that I referred to before. As I said, we will have got out the door twice what we anticipated doing back in January. And that is due to the great work of the Bushfire Recovery Agency connecting with local communities. And one of the most significant elements of that has been getting that $170 million to small businesses in $10,000 grants, which has been a real game changer for them.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] You insisted to us that if you shut down, it had to be for six months. That was the only way that you could squash the virus. How did you get that wrong? And can you confirm that the Treasury review into JobKeeper will assess whether to truncate or alter the program before September. Given restrictions are being lifted?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Andrew, I, I don't share your certainty about the future that you seem to profess about how the coronavirus operates. We still have a long way to go on this. And I think it's quite dangerous, I think, to assert that this is all over as your question suggests. And so I wouldn't agree with your assessment. We’ve still got a long way to go. We are just now starting to reopen our economy. We are not fully certain about what the implications of all of that will be. And that's why we have to remain on our guard. And that's why the states are moving at their own pace to implement the road map that I set out last week. And we will come under test again with the protections that we have put in place. So I would not be so overconfident as you, when it comes to where things are at. I think Australians have to remain on their guard. And I think the chief medical officer was stressing this point yesterday. The reason that we're opening things up again is not because the virus has beaten. The virus is still out there. It hasn't gone anywhere. It is still out there. There may be only 700 or so active cases in Australia now, but Australia is still very much at risk. The reason we're reopening is we've put protections in place and it will take us some time to reopen our economy and get it back to a point where it can start supporting Australians again. And so I wouldn't share your assessment of the scene several months ago, we have put in place and bought 6 months worth of time. We are only six weeks into that six months. And we've put the commitment in to support Australians over that period of time. And as we need to adjust based on advice and the strength of the economy and how many people we’re getting back into jobs. Well, these are the things we'll be watching carefully. But I don't think Australians can be in any doubt that when they needed us most, we were there. And we're there for them right here, right now. And we'll be there for them in the future.


JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, would you consider scaling back JobKeeper or ending it before the end of September?

PRIME MINISTER: All of this is very premature. We are six weeks into a six month program. And the impact of the virus, how it will impact on Australia in the months ahead with a reopening economy is very much a work in progress. That's why we've put this six month lifeline in place. And what we need to ensure that we do is that whatever supports we have, that they are targeted. I set this out in early March. In early March, I said we had to have programs that were targeted. We had to have programs that used existing distribution mechanisms within the government. We've been doing all of these things and all of our programs will continue to be delivered in accordance with those principles. But let there be no doubt Australians know that our government has been there to back them through one of the toughest times in their lives, not just on COVID-19, bushfires, on drought, on floods. We've been there to support them and we will continue to be there to support them.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister the Audit Office has revealed that on the 26 of March 2019, your office asked Bridget McKenzie to seek your authority on projects to receive sports grants, and she wrote, seeking that on the 10th of April. So why, did you mislead the House of Representatives when you said that no authorisation was provided by you? And why did your office do that if you had no role in authorising?

PRIME MINISTER: No. It’s good to see that the Canberra press gallery is back to politics as usual with Parliament coming back. Yeah. Thank you. I've answered your question, I said no.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] He asked about potentially ending the JobKeeper scheme early. Would you also be open to as Deloitte has called for, a staging at the ending of it. That would be longer than the 6 month time limit you have, if unemployment is still very, very high levels, you know, by the end of the year?

PRIME MINISTER: I think it’s very… we have got to be careful not to be speculative about this. What the legislation has done is to put in place a program for six months that supports people through an economic lifeline, an income support lifeline, to the tune of some $130 billion. And that doesn't include JobSeeker, which is many tens of billions on top of that and this is what we're delivering to support Australians during this time. Now, how that program can be adjusted to better support over that period or if there are sectors that come under greater strain over a longer period of time, these are all things that the government is fully aware of. But we are not going to get ahead of ourselves here, and I would encourage others not to get ahead of themselves here. We are six weeks into a six month program in one of the most uncertain economic and health environments any of us have ever seen. And so if you've got a crystal ball, you might want to share it with me. I don't have one. So we're going to make decisions based on the advice that we have and our reading of the economy. But right now, Australians need that support, whether it's in a bushfire affected community, a drought affected community, or those who are still unable to reopen their businesses because there's insufficient demand for them to do so. My focus is on what they need today, right here, right now.


JOURNALIST: You did begin, as you say, 18 months ago. It began after Australia banned Huawei from the 5G network and we brought in foreign interference laws. In that 18 months, has China sought any information from the Australian Government at all on the level of subsidies that we might be giving? Have they sent out any investigations teams? And if they haven't done any of those things, how can this be being decided on the merits of trade?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, at this stage, they are coming to a conclusion, I understand, sometime next week, I think Chris. And so the Trade Minister will continue to facilitate any assistance they need on any of those things. But on the broader question, I think he dealt with that yesterday.

JOURNALIST: Is there a single inspector here?

PRIME MINISTER: The Trade Minister dealt with that yesterday.

THE HON. DAVID LITTLEPROUD MP, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, DROUGHT AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: [Inaudible] we're working as cooperatively and on the 19th of May we’ll see that report. I don't think we should speculate or jump ahead. We're working to provide whatever information is required to ensure that our case is adequately prosecuted with the Chinese officials.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what's your reaction to the scenes of protests on the streets in Melbourne and Sydney over the weekend of people wanting things to open up sooner and that level of civil disobedience?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I understand people's frustration and I'm pleased to see that the Victorian Premier has made some decisions today or prior to today in terms of where they are going on the roadmap back. And I welcome that as I do the announcements made in Western Australia and New South Wales and other places. The states, as we said last Friday, are setting out their timetable. An important part of what we decided last week is that people did need to see that road ahead because we understand the frustrations of not knowing, well, what happens next and what happens after that. We're able to get ourselves to a position last Friday, a week ahead of where we thought we would, where we were in a position to do just that. So it is our hope that that will provide some hope to Australians that will help deal with, I think, the anxieties and frustrations that they are feeling. It's a free country, people will make their protest and make their voices heard. But equally, that needs to be done in an appropriate way and it needs to respect the law enforcement authorities who are just simply trying to do their job. So we understand it's a difficult time and those issues will be dealt with in the normal way.


JOURNALIST: In terms of JobKeeper and JobSeeker, the bottom line is it is too early to make a call, but you're open to loosening or winding back some payments and potentially extending others at some point in the future if there are 850,000 people back to work before the end of July, for example, some of those restrictions or payments might be wound back?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what I've said I think is very clear is that we're six weeks into a six month program and at this stage, the uncertainties about the global economy, let alone our own economy, are still very much there. And it would be very premature, I think, to get into speculations. What people know is there six months of an economic lifeline to the value of $130 billion and that says to Australians that we will be there for you and we will be there for you to get Australians back into work. The thing that matters is getting Australians back into work. The thing that matters is getting Australian businesses back open, because when that happens, there will be no need for those levels of income support. Success for our economy is when we're able to get ourselves out of the situation which requires such enormous taxpayer support. And it's not just today's taxpayers, it's tomorrow's taxpayers as well and our Government will also always be extremely prudent in not putting burdens on future generations, let alone the current generation, in dealing with the challenges that we have today. So that income support was forthcoming. It was forthcoming quickly and delivered in, you know, with record speed when it comes to programs of this scale and this size. It was carefully considered. It wasn't rushed into. It was worked through. It was well-designed and it's been doing the job and it will keep doing that job for as long as it's needed and the test, ultimately, is ensuring that we get people back into jobs. If people are in jobs, they don't need income support and that's my task. That's the state's task. That's all of our task, to support businesses. I said on Friday, opening up was step three. Step four was building that confidence and building that momentum. Step five was that reset which went to the broader policy issues that would see our economy grow into the future so we can pay back the debt and we can continue to guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on. So that's what we're focused on, right here, right now. Thanks very much.