Monday, 15 June 2020
Franklin Electorate: COVID-19
Obviously, we've all seen the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and then the restrictions on our local communities. Just a few weeks ago I decided I would survey my constituents in relation to the post-COVID recovery. Interestingly, around 30 per cent of the 1,600 or more people who responded to the survey said they knew somebody who had fallen through the cracks of state or federal government support. This is particularly concerning for those families whose incomes have been substantially reduced due to COVID-19 but who are not eligible for any government support at all. The most common problem, people will not be surprised to hear, is JobKeeper eligibility. Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to read you some of the quotes from my constituents. One constituent told me,' I was five days short of the required one year as a casual at the same employer.' Another said, 'My son-in-law spent 35 years in his job only for the company to fold just a few months before COVID, so he'd only spent nine months in his new job as a casual and was therefore not eligible for JobKeeper.' These are the types of things that I am getting told by my constituents. I've also heard from a young woman in my electorate who is expecting a child. That is great news for her and her family but, unfortunately, due to COVID-19 she has been put off and won't be able to meet the work test for paid parental leave. Obviously, when she and her family were planning for that child they were expecting to get the government's paid parental leave, and they're now no longer eligible because she no longer has the work that would have made her eligible for that payment.
We're getting people saying that they're seeing visa holders queuing up at food banks and food relief places. Charities are providing hot lunches for people, and for some people it is the only hot meal they're getting all week. I know of neighbourhood houses who are supporting entire families of visa holders down in Tasmania. It is terrible that so many people have been excluded from support by this government. We heard again today from the Prime Minister that he expects these payments will stop in September and that we'll all just snap back. That will not be happening. Frankly, there are so many people who are already missing out on government support that government need to really consider the tail of this response. If the government actually withdraw support all at once, like they say they are going to, we'll see a further contraction in the economy. We will see the recession bite deeper and we will see more people unemployed if the government make the wrong decisions. They can't afford to make the wrong decisions.