There are too many people being left behind by the Morrison government. This government wants to pretend that the pandemic is over and it’s business as usual. But for my community that’s just not the case, as much as we all wish it could be. I have spoken to a lot of people who are still very anxious about what their lives are going to look like over the year to come. These are people who have lost their job or who have lost hours at work and they still don’t have them back. Older people in particular are coming to me with what are some very difficult stories at the moment. They know that they will not be top of the employment queue in the current jobs market. For these people, the government is offering them a paltry $25 a week increase to the JobSeeker payment. We don’t build communities by keeping people in poverty. These people need a genuine jobs plan from this government. They deserve genuine support. Instead, what this government announced was a dob-in-a-dole-bludger hotline—a hotline that even employer groups have said is impractical. I feel as though this government has no idea about the reality of people’s lives. I really urge them to get out in their community and talk to people.
I’ve been talking to people like our North East Neighbourhood House Network. They wrote to me with their concern that the removal of the coronavirus supplement means that many of the people they support will be pushed back to living below the poverty line. We need a permanent increase to this rate that allows people to live in dignity and we need a jobs creation plan from the Morrison government when the government’s JobKeeper support payment stops at the end of this month.
From talking with businesses in my electorate, I know there is a lot of anxiety for them about what that will mean, particularly for travel agents and for those in the event industry. They are far from business as usual at the moment. There is real stress and anxiety for them about what the end of JobKeeper will mean for their businesses and for their employees. Many of them have carried their employees through this period, and they want to keep them on, but they are really unsure if they will be able to do so when JobKeeper ends. They are even unsure if they will be able to continue running their business. The government needs to step up and save these sectors. They need more support and they need support that is targeted correctly.
Again, I’ve heard from travel agents that the targeted support the government has provided there doesn’t actually match the reality of how their businesses operate. We know that the half-price flights that are being offered by the government will do little to support travel agents, who actually need that direct support.
The government is picking winners, not supporting all the industries that need support. But these people are vital businesses in our local community. I don’t want to see them close up. I don’t want to see them have to let their employees go. They need more support.