PRIME MINISTER: This is a tough day for Australia, a very tough day. Almost 600,000 jobs have been lost, every one of them devastating for those Australians, for their families, for their communities. A very tough day. Terribly shocking, although not unanticipated. We knew there would be hard news as the pandemic wreaks an impact on Australia as it is on countries all around the world. And so it has been the case. And in the months ahead, we can brace ourselves and must brace ourselves for further hard news for Australians to take. But it's important on a day like today that we remember to support each other again, but also to seek to take heart. And to encourage each other in hope. Almost 600,000 Australians losing work can disappoint that hope. It can break hearts. But it is important as a country that we stand firm and we stand together, the plan that the government has been pursuing from the outset of this outbreak has been to fight this war on two fronts, to fight the virus and to fight the economic devastation that the virus brings. It has always been a battle on each of these that has been critically important.

On the virus, of course, we've made great progress. We're winning, but we have not won. When it comes to our economy we anticipated that this would be the impact. And so we did not wait to put in place the economic support and lifelines that would be needed, this was done many, many weeks ago and at record levels with both the expansion of JobSeeker to support those who could not stay with their employers. And for the first time for so many of them, they would seek unemployment support or indeed the JobKeeper program, which is doing exactly that. Keeping people in their jobs. A program of a scale this country has never seen before and I hope never has to see again, to respond to such a weighty economic blow as we've seen occurring in these recent months.

So those supports were there. They were put in place in anticipation of this day because we knew it would come, and more will follow. And these supports will remain vital in the months ahead as Australia works its way through. But a key component of the plan is not just to have the supports and fight the virus, but to reopen our economy. And that is happening. A national initiative. States and territories working together to reopen our economies, to get Australians back into the jobs, to get the hours back, to get the incomes back, and to get the Australian economy into a COVID safe environment, where the economy can support them and take them forward. And that confidence will build as we are already seeing occurring. The surveys, whether it's from Westpac or from ANZ or others, which shows that rebound occurring as Australians see the plan and can see the road ahead.

I've told you before, when I left university and soon after, we went into the last recession, I remember it. I remember friends, I remember family who lost jobs, who couldn't get jobs. It was hard. This is harder. We haven't seen this before. And for many young people who have never experienced that, this is beyond anything they could imagine. But out of that recession, Australia came back and has gone on to record the longest run in economic growth in recorded economic history, according to some. It shows the resilience of Australians to bounce back, to recover, to work, to support each other, their communities, their ingenuity, their hard work. That's the way out, it's always been the way out for us. And that's what Australians can take hope in today, that despite right now right here, Australians hurting today they can look forward knowing on the basis of our national character and our ingenuity and our resolution that we will see those better days and we will come through this together as we always promised that we would together. So I've asked the Treasurer to join me today. He can speak more specifically to the numbers. But I want to commend all of those who have been involved with the JobKeeper and the JobSeeker programs, because that is what holds the nation up at this point in time, as it should in times of emergency. And there will come a time where that won't be necessary. But for now, right now, as we work to rebuild our economy, that is where our focus must be. Those supports and the difficult task of reopening, to get Australians back on their feet. Josh.

THE HON. JOSH FRYDENBERG MP, TREASURER: Thank you, Prime Minister. This is a very tough day. And these unemployment numbers and to hear, as the Prime Minister said, some 600,000 fewer Australians in a job is heartbreaking. These are families, these are friends, these are neighbours, these are workmates. Now, Australians know that we have confronted this global pandemic, this economic shock, the size of which the country has never, ever seen before, from a position of economic strength. When growth was rising, unemployment was falling. The Budget was in balance for the first time in 11 years. And according to the Reserve Bank Governor, the fundamentals of the Australian economy were very strong.

But today's unemployment numbers reveal the real and painful economic impact of the coronavirus. The participation rate has fallen to 63.5 percent. As the Prime Minister said, 594,000 fewer Australians are in a job. 325,000 of those were women. The youth unemployment rate has fallen, has risen to 13.8 per cent, up from 11.5 per cent. But this reiterates why our financial commitments to respond to the coronavirus was so important and are so important. The cash flow boosted over $30 billion dollars, helping to keep businesses in business. The JobSeeker payment, the $550 coronavirus supplement, effectively doubling what was known as Newstart, the 50 per cent wage subsidy for apprentices across the country and, of course, the $130 billion JobKeeper program. And I can inform you that today the number of employees covered by those businesses that have formally enrolled in the JobKeeper program now exceeds six million. So we have 1.6 million Australians who are on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance and now we have six million Australian employees that are covered by the more than 860,000 businesses that are formally enrolled in the JobKeeper program. And as the Prime Minister said, the lifting of these restrictions, albeit gradually and based on the health advice, will help get people back to work. Some 850,000 people will be back in work as a result of stage 1, 2 and 3 restrictions being lifted. And also, as a result, the economy will be better off by 9.4 billion dollars a month.

So as the Prime Minister has said, there is still a long way to go and the economic numbers will get worse before they get better. Today, our thoughts are with those Australians who are doing it tough, but they know that their Government has their back.