OPINION | Hollie Hughes: There is hope in the Hunter

TOUGH TIMES: Senator Hollie Hughes says the Morrison Government is determined to rebuild Australia's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
TOUGH TIMES: Senator Hollie Hughes says the Morrison Government is determined to rebuild Australia's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our nation has been forged from the hardest of times and, we now face our toughest period since the Second World War.

We are in the grip of a pandemic that we are determined to beat - an insidious opponent that doesn't respect rules and preys on our most vulnerable.

Despite some setbacks we've had great success in pushing it back.

But we must also tackle the economic crisis left in the virus's wake.

The task of rebuilding the Hunter economy is upon us.

It's in these tough times that the spirit of Australians will be forged anew.

Australians are already meeting the economic challenge.

Businesses have kept workers employed with JobKeeper support.

Employees sacrificed hours and pay so they could stay in a job.

Too many saw themselves unemployed and were brought into the JobSeeker safety net. But we recognise that they are now determined to find new opportunities.

Yes, the Government has been there to provide the support that Australians have relied on. And that support will continue.

And, Australians won't be on their own along the road to economic recovery as we create more jobs and rebuild our economy.

Our focus is to create more jobs. Our JobMaker plan will get this done.

Those who lost their jobs, and particularly young people, will be eligible for free or low-cost work-ready training places.

These extra 340,700 places will give workers and the businesses that train them the necessary skills as well as confidence to set themselves up for the future.

A wage incentive that pays 50 per cent of the salaries of apprentices and trainees to keep them in work has been expanded. It will support 180,000 apprentices working in 90,000 small and medium businesses.

Vital infrastructure projects are being brought forward across the country - some hundreds of billions of dollars' worth, in the Hunter electorate alone the Morrison Government has contributed over $3.2 billion for vital road and infrastructure projects.

These projects include the upgrades of the EC Throsby Abattoir at Whittingham, the Scone and Upper Hunter Regional Saleyards as well as the Singleton Regional Livestock Market upgrade.

Projects such as the Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism Signage implementation and the affordable Student Accommodation in the Upper Hunter Project will ensure the region stays on the map. These projects will guarantee our region stays the premier tourist and educational centre that it is.

These projects will result in job creation, investment and growth, which will help shape the jobs of the future.

Major infrastructure upgrades like the M1 Pacific Motorway Extension to Raymond Terrace will continue to progress, with the Morrison Government already contributing $1.6 billion to the project.

Lower business and personal income taxes will continue to keep more money in the pockets of Hunter business owners and workers.

The latest round of tax cuts will see over $7 billion flow into the pockets of taxpayers, as income tax returns are lodged over the coming months.

The removal of job-crushing red tape will get more businesses and workers mobilised quicker through project approvals.

The lights will be kept on through new investments in energy supply and, downward pressure will be put on the cost of living through key measures to lower energy prices, including holding energy companies to account.

Prior to COVID-19 Australians had built almost 30 years of consecutive economic growth. It will take hard work for us to get back to where we were, but we start from a position of strength compared to similar nations.

The Morrison Government's JobMaker plan draws on this success, while learning the lessons from the pandemic by ensuring we are in greater control of our economic destiny.

A strong recovery will also ensure that the essential services Hunter residents rely on will be there when they're needed.

Together we will emerge from this pandemic and economic crisis stronger, more united and more prosperous.

Senator Hollie Hughes is the Patron Senator for the Hunter and Paterson electorates