Thursday, 14 May 2020
To ensure the safety of the nation, the Morrison government acted correctly on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer to shut our borders. It was done to protect us from the spread of coronavirus and it was absolutely the right thing to do, but with actions come consequences. If you're an aviation or tourism worker, you calculate the impact of no flights in and no flights out in a heartbeat.
The government moved quickly to stop flights, but they seem to have spared no time or care for the workers affected. Employees at Virgin certainly understand that. And so do employees at Dnata, the firm that supplies catering and other services to airlines. I learned about this firsthand when contacted by Adam from Lethbridge Park in the Chifley electorate. He's a Dnata employee. He has worked with them for over a decade, and he understandably expected that the government would be there for him when he needed them the most. He and his workmates thought they'd get access to JobKeeper. They thought this because their company believed, based on government advice, they would be included in JobKeeper. Right at the moment they stepped up for that support, the door was shut in their face. Why? Because dnata is owned by another government, and our government didn't like that. They didn't think for one minute about blokes like Adam. Sure, he works for a company that's owned by another government, but he's an Australian worker performing work on Australian soil, paying taxes here and helping the economy. He and his workmates do their bit for us, and he would rightly expect that his government would be there for him in a tough spell. Instead, after working for dnata for 11 years, Adam has been stood down and told to go find work when there's little work around. He faces the prospect of losing his livelihood.
It's important to note that JobKeeper is not held by the companies; it's supposed to be passed through to the employees. So it's not like we're handing this cash over to another government. It's helping workers here on Australian soil. Through this crisis Labor has attempted to be constructive and responsible, but being constructive does not mean being mute. I will not shut up when an average Australian worker like Adam and his workmates are being let down. These workers should get the respect and dignity they deserve by extending JobKeeper payments to them. My message to the government is simple: you did the right thing on the borders, but the wrong thing by these workers. The good news is that you can fix this today, and you should. I call on the Treasurer to do just that. Fix it today, with the stroke of a pen, and ensure that dnata workers and their families get looked after.