Continuation of JobKeeperNewsletter
In a welcome move the Morrison Government has bowed to common sense and economic reality by extending both the JobKeeper and JobSeeker subsidies through to March 2021 and the end of December 2020 respectively.
Labor has indicated that it is of a mind to support the package but will wait to see the details in the legislation.
The changes are summarised in the table below.
The Government was told from every quarter, including many constituents here in Corangamite, that without further support the economy and jobs would fall off a cliff at the end of September.
With an effective rate of unemployment of 11.3%, currently the extra income in the community is propping up business, consumer spending and real estate. For many families the subsidies are the difference between destitution and survival.
The extension of subsidies is clearly a good and necessary move.
The splitting of the JobKeeper payments into two levels (20 hours or more and less than 20 hours work) is logical, given that over 800,000 part-time and casual recipients were actually receiving more (the flat $1500 a fortnight) than they had usually earned. That was fine as a way of injecting money out into the economy quickly, but ultimately it wasn’t sustainable or fair. That $6 billion which gave more to some people than they would have earned could have been better spent on other groups in the community.
However, there are still problems with the amended JobKeeper package, including:
- Many workers are still arbitrarily excluded – like the DNATA workers whose employer is foreign owned; staff employed by universities, and childcare workers
- The eligibility criteria for businesses of a 30% drop in revenues in each and every quarter to be eligible for the next quarter sets a high bar and doesn’t take account of the ups and downs of opening and closing according to COVID surges.
- It doesn’t address the problem of those sectors like accommodation and tourism along the Great Ocean Road as well as travel booking agents, where we know that the businesses are viable but they won’t recover until our international borders start to open, which will be beyond March 2021.
- The JobSeeker changes are welcome in that there has not been a ‘snap back’ to the unliveable $40 a day (which is the base JobSeeker rate of $565 per fortnight for a single person). There are many who would argue that the $550 COVID supplement made life bearable and that for many unemployed people, including over a million casuals excluded from JobKeeper, the reduced $250 supplement will be very tough to survive on.
- The changes to JobSeeker also avoid the ultimate decision about what the permanent rate of JobSeeker will be. It simply can’t go back to $282.50 a week or $40 a day plus a few dollars for rent and energy. It appears that the compromise is a reduced rate. The PM’s comments when announcing the changes signal that the final permanent amount will be somewhere between $565 and $810 per fortnight. I’ll continue to advocate for the higher end of that range.
- By reintroducing fruitless mutual obligation requirements (applying for jobs each month) the Government has also missed the opportunity to put in place a real job guarantee scheme. Those receiving JobSeeker need to show they are looking for work. Rather than requiring people to apply for jobs that simply don’t exist – there is currently 1 vacancy for every 13 people out of work – we should be creating socially and environmentally useful jobs at a local and regional level.
- Those jobs can be in environment, landscaping, maintenance, COVID preparedness and a range of other useful work, managed by councils, NGOs and landcare groups. They can be linked to funding for upskilling, short courses and free TAFE. With some imagination the JobSeeker scheme could really kick goals at a local level and give people both hope and new skills.
This story was originally published in Libby's July Newsletter. Please click here to subscribe to the email newsletter.Share Tweet