Thursday, 18 June 2020
Supporting businesses is one of the most important things that the government has done during this coronavirus pandemic. But we need to make sure that the support that's been rolled out to business has actually been helping them, and we need to listen to them about what they need for the future. For this reason, I did the Perth Business Survey. I sent it to more than 12,000 businesses in my electorate to get their feedback on how they were surviving the coronavirus pandemic. I asked them about their biggest challenges and what they need from the federal government going forward so they can keep their doors open and keep their staff on the books.
The No. 1 concern of businesses in my electorate is low turnover. The second-biggest concern is the removal of JobKeeper. Fifty-one per cent of businesses said that they were worried that JobKeeper was going to be removed, or that it wasn't going to be extended as much as would be needed so that they could continue to keep their doors open and keep people in jobs. Today we are seeing more of the snapback approach, suggesting we are just going to push people onto a yet-to-be-determined level of the jobseeker payment. This is putting waves of uncertainty through our economy at the worst possible time.
What we saw today is that Western Australia now, sadly, has the highest unemployment anywhere in the nation, at 8.1 per cent.
A government member: Open the borders.
I hear the interjection that we should open the borders. I don't know how anyone can suggest that putting the health of Western Australians at risk is the solution to economic challenges. It is incredibly clear that the health of Western Australia will be dealt with—
Government members interjecting—
And I think it is disgraceful that the Attorney-General has decided to join forces with Clive Palmer—Clive Palmer, of all people! They're going to the High Court together to tear down the Western Australian border, putting the business interests of Clive Palmer—and I know that Clive Palmer employs a lot of people for the Liberal National Party in Queensland—ahead of the health interests of Western Australians. It is disgraceful!
But back to the businesses in my electorate: they had some very good, practical ideas about what should happen for the businesses of Western Australia to continue to survive this terrible pandemic. They said we should bring forward infrastructure and construction spending. Good idea! They said we should have more federal funding for social housing. These are businesses saying they want to see more federal funding for social housing! They said that we should properly fund arts organisations, not just now but into the future. They said we should do more to promote local manufacturing capacity. And there were suggestions that we should put Western Australia forward to be a renewable energy leader. They said: 'Be bold. Have ideas that actually grow our economy. Take advantage of the goodwill that does come from Western Australia towards those who are trying to tackle this pandemic, but the ridiculous suggestion— (Time expired)