(Australian Associated Press)
The Australian economy needs to be weaned off government support to ensure there is a business-led recovery, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
The federal opposition and welfare bodies have been critical of the move this week to reduce the level of the JobKeeper wage subsidy.
The subsidy is due to finish in March.
Mr Morrison said it was always going to be “temporary, targeted and proportionate” allowing workers to get through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which sent Australia into recession.
He said thousands of businesses and over two million workers had “graduated” from JobKeeper back onto the regular payroll, with the government having spent $77 billion on it.
“The economy is regearing … it’s finding its own feet again,” Mr Morrison told 2GB radio on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to be careful the important supports we put in place during the worst of the pandemic then don’t hold back the business-led recovery on the other side.”
He compared the economic recovery to a hospital.
“It’s like coming out of the ICU and into the ward and then becoming an outpatient.”
The latest ANZ data shows job ads rose by 9.2 per cent in December to an 18-month high.
It meant job ads were up five per cent on the year and rebounded 98.3 per cent in the past eight months.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the solid lift in hiring intentions should translate to higher employment in coming months, supporting spending.
“The economic recovery continues,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government has announced a plan to provide more workers for the agricultural sector, which has been hard hit by travel restrictions.
Student visa holders will be permitted to work more than the usual 40 hours per fortnight limit during semesters if they are working in the agriculture sector.