What an impassioned performance from the member for Moncrieff! Congratulations, but I do have to pick up on a few of the points she made. Gold standard? Really? Gold standard of what? We heard that there are three words to describe the Morrison government’s economic record. I’ve got three words to describe that record: one trillion dollars. That’s debt.
There are too many people who are being left behind by the government. They just want to pretend that the pandemic is over and that it’s business as usual. But, for my community, that is far from the truth. I’ve spoken most recently with a number of people who are very anxious about what their lives are going to look like over the coming year. Local businesses in Jagajaga have been relying on JobKeeper. In my electorate, almost 10,000 workers are expected to lose JobKeeper at the end of this month, with $4.8 million a week in support being ripped away from our local economy by this government. That is serious stuff. I have spent a lot of time in the past month talking with small businesses in my electorate who are on the edge. This pandemic is not over for them. They have not recovered. They know that they have been doing everything they can to keep their businesses going and to keep their employees on the books through what has been an incredibly difficult time. They also know that they are not through the woods yet. But the message they get from this government, who is planning to rip away JobKeeper from them, is that it’s done. You’re on your own. I know all these things because I’ve been talking with businesses in my electorate. But this government seems to have a tin ear when it comes to actually talking to small business.
I would like to draw your attention to some correspondence I’ve received from someone who lives in my electorate but whose business is based in the Treasurer’s electorate. His businesses is based in Camberwell, Victoria, and he tells me that he employs 19 staff, seven of whom live in my electorate. This is what Miki has to say about his business:
“My business has suffered severe consequences as a result of Covid-19 like many business in Australia. Our revenue has been down by more than 30% each month since March last year and despite this I am happy to say we have been able to keep all our staff on during these hard times. We have not reduced their salaries, hours etc. These staff are connected to 19 families who have in turn approx. 17 children.”
So Miki is doing the right thing by his employees. But then he tells me:
“Where our problem lies is that despite meeting all the qualifying criteria for Job Keeper and most other Government forms of stimulus there is one test that we have not been able to pass simply because of a definition.”
The member for Moncrieff mentioned BAS statements and her understanding of them, so I’ll put this to the member for Moncrieff. Miki says that his business is a finance company and finance does not attract GST. So therefore, when he completes his BAS return, he doesn’t declare any GST revenue, because he’s not input taxed. For this reason, he is not eligible for JobKeeper for his business.
As I said, his business is based in the Treasurer’s electorate, and he has written to the Treasurer a number of times asking for assistance for his business, asking for the Treasurer to give assistance so that he can keep all his staff on. And do you know what’s happened? Has he had a meeting with the Treasurer? Has the Treasurer helped him out? No, he hasn’t. He says:
We have even tried on many occasions written to the Hon Josh Frydenberg who is the local member of where our business is located in Camberwell. After months of non-responsiveness I finally decided to personally visit his office last week and spoke to a couple of his staff—
So thank you to those staff for trying to help, but he still has not been able to get help from the Treasurer. He says:
“To say we have been disappointed with how his office has handled our situation would be a gross understatement!”
Again, these are businesses in the Treasurer’s own electorate that this government is not listening to. You don’t know—you don’t understand what is going on in our communities. They still need support and you are ripping it away. On behalf of this business and on behalf of the other small businesses in my electorate that this government is ignoring, I ask you to do more. I ask you to support them, to support jobs, to support families. Don’t walk away.