Thursday, 3 September 2020
I'll never forget the day that my dad came home and told us that he'd lost his job. I remember the fear in his face. I remember the reaction from my mum. I remember the conversations in the kitchen about how we were going to pay the mortgage and how we were going to pay the bills. That was almost 30 years ago. You can tell that story now and times it by a million, with more than a million people having the same sorts of conversations in their kitchens right now, thinking about how they're going to pay the bills. Yesterday, they got told what we already know—that we're in recession. We heard lots of stories about statistics and saw lots of graphs, but what this really means is pain and worry and anxiety. Recessions crush people.
There are two things we know about recessions. The first thing is that unemployment goes up fast and that it takes a long, long time to come down. The government said yesterday that unemployment will still be up at seven per cent in two years time. If that's right, that will mean that hundreds of thousands of people are going to have their lives ruined over the next two years.
The other thing that we know about recessions is this: they tend to hit poor people harder than they hit the rich. You can see that in my electorate. It's one of the poorest in the country and, over the last few months, more people have lost their job in my electorate than almost any other electorate in the country. As I think about the months ahead, I fear that, as tough as the last six months have been, the next six months could be even tougher. Unemployment will keep going up. We're told another 400,000 people are going to lose their job by Christmas and, next month, people have got to start paying their mortgages again. Hundreds of thousands of people have deferred paying their mortgages. That all starts again in October. Lots of people have deferred paying their rent. That ends next month as well and people will have to start paying their rent again, plus the debt that they've incurred over the last six months. Half a million people have drained their superannuation dry, and many just to pay the bills. There's nothing left now for them to keep paying the bills. At the same time as all this is happening, help from the government is going down. The pension has been frozen and they're talking about freezing superannuation, and support like JobKeeper and JobSeeker is going to be cut. So the problem is getting bigger and the help from the government is getting smaller. This is really important. My dad eventually got another job, and there are more than a million people around Australia right now who are urging the government on. They want their future back and I hope the government is up to it.