(Australian Associated Press)
The federal treasurer remains confident a surge in Omicron cases across the country won’t derail Australia’s economic rebound, following last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
It comes as new figures released by the tax office showed 485,000 jobs were created across the nation since September.
Josh Frydenberg said the country had experienced a jobs boom in recent months.
It’s estimated there are 180,000 more people in work now compared to the beginning of the pandemic,
“Small businesses across the country who did it so tough early on are now coming (back) better,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News on Monday.
“We’re starting to see these jobs coming back and it’s looking very promising for the Australian economy.”
The Australian Taxation Office data on Monday comes after the unemployment rate recently fell to 4.6 per cent, which was a 13-year low.
Meanwhile job advertisements are at a 13-year high, with more than 250,000 positions available.
“What we’ve done so far during the pandemic here in Australia is avoid a repeat of the experience of the recessions that we had in the 1980s and the 1990s,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters.
“We’re not out of this pandemic, there is no room for complacency, and we need to lock in this economic recovery.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the rebound in jobs figures was only because the economy had shut down due to government failures surrounding COVID.
He said the new data didn’t tell the full story regarding employment.
“One of the things we see with the jobs figures is the fact that two million Australians are either unemployed or want more hours,” he told reporters in Newcastle.
“They want full-time, permanent jobs, and one of the things we’re seeing in Australia with the insecure work is more casual jobs, less permanent jobs and less security for people.”
The tax office data takes in the period following the lifting of lockdowns driven by the Delta variant in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
COVID-19 restrictions across the country eased after the lockdowns ended, but infection case numbers have surged in recent weeks due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
But despite the rise in infections, Mr Frydenberg said the economic recovery was still on track.
Mr Frydenberg said there would be a natural progression in allowing international tourists to return to Australia, after travellers from overseas were largely blocked from coming to the country for nearly two years.
Responding to calls by leading economists for a more aggressive approach to migration to help fill job vacancies following the pandemic, the treasurer said it would be done in a measured way.
“We’ll continue to have a balanced, considered approach to migration,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“We did see throughout the pandemic last year and the year before that, population growth (was at) … the lowest level in more than a century.
“This is going to be one of the more permanent impacts of COVID on migration.”
Skilled workers, visa holders and international students have been able to return to Australia without the need for a travel exemption since mid-December.