I rise to speak in support of the shadow minister's motion, acknowledging the fantastic work of Services Australia.
2020 has been an unbelievably challenging year for so many Australians, and it is the role and responsibility of Services Australia to be there for Australians when they need support and assistance in their time of need. For many it will be the first time they have needed this help, help to put food on the table, pay the bills and pay for the school shoes. In response the staff at Services Australia have done a fantastic job under extremely difficult circumstances, and it is right this House recognises that contribution.
I salute the employees and leadership at Services Australia. Their hard work has kept so many safe and secure through a year that so many will be happy to see end. This year has seen Services Australia launch an online intent-to-claim function through the myGov portal. This function has made it easier to register for desperately needed financial supports. It also eliminates the need for applicants to wait on hold or online to access Services Australia.
The myGov portal has also been upgraded. The previous capacity of 6,000 users at one time was lifted in March to 40,000 and then to 150,000. In a single day in March, myGov facilitated 2.6 million logins. By comparison the previous busiest day ever was during the 2019 tax concession season, which saw 1.8 million logins, 800,000 fewer than 25 March of this year. Services Australia also announced 5,000 extra staff in the first quarter of this year. These staff helped to roll out more services faster to Australian people.
All of this work must be recognised and applauded. Services Australia employees should be proud of what they've achieved this year. It must be said that Services Australia will always be necessary. It is important that the staff continue to deliver services at a high standard for our country. But the Morrison government's plan for the future will put too much pressure on this organisation. In the budget the government released two months ago they planned for unemployment to be worse next year than it was at the peak of the pandemic. This is their plan: they intend to withdraw economic supports before the economy has recovered. On 6 October the Morrison government printed in black and white their intention to keep unemployment well above five per cent for the next four years. They plan for about one million Australians to be unemployed this year, next year and the year after that. That is their plan, and this is a disgrace.
So while I pay tribute today to the amazing work that Services Australia staff have done over 2020 I also want to stress one extremely important message: this government should not be planning on keeping that many Australians out of employment. No government should ever plan to keep that many citizens out of employment. In setting this strategy the government is planning for more suffering and increasing the difficulty of the job of Services Australia in the process. It's not good enough. This country needs a government with vision. It needs a government that has a holistic jobs plan, that manufactures here in Australia and that embraces new opportunities and new jobs in renewables, waste and recycling, electric vehicles, our universities and vocational schools, and emerging industries.
Part of the plan needs to be to increase JobSeeker beyond $40 a day. This is unacceptable, uncaring and stops people from effectively searching for work. We see ad hoc programs and bandaid solutions, but no underlying plan to carry Australia well beyond COVID. Labor, if elected, will deliver a plan for Services Australia that puts people first. It will make sure that this plan is compassionate and gets people back to rewarding, secure work.
The shadow minister for government services has done well in presenting this motion to the House. This is an issue the shadow minister is passionate about and well versed in. I'd like to acknowledge his tireless advocacy on behalf of Australians, especially those employed by Services Australia. I take pride in standing with the shadow minister in saying thank you to those at Services Australia for their efforts, their calm under pressure and their compassion in helping Australia through one of the greatest challenges we've ever faced.Share Tweet