Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:32 pm

Photo of Nita GreenNita Green (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

It must be so deflating to come in here one day after the budget, having to give a five-minute speech about what your government is delivering and actually only being able to deliver 60 seconds of things that the government is doing to get us out of the worst economic recession in a century. I know Jim Chalmers, the shadow Treasurer, came to Cairns last week and heard firsthand about how this economic crisis is impacting Cairns and the Far North Queensland region. That was a really important visit, because we know this government has left Far North Queensland behind. This budget, delivered yesterday, includes no new projects for Cairns and no extra funding for social housing in Far North Queensland. It is one of the areas hit first and worst by this economic recession, and yet not a single project in Cairns was announced. There were just more re-announcements and more press releases—re-announced and redrafted—but not a single project for Cairns. That is at the same time that the government is ripping $29 million per fortnight out of the local economy in Far North Queensland by cutting JobKeeper.

What the budget failed to do yesterday is replace that funding and replace those jobs. We know jobs will be lost in Cairns and in other places in Far North Queensland because of this economic recession. The task for the government last night was to explain to people living in regional Queensland how they were going to replace JobKeeper funding with jobs, and they failed to do that—not a single project for Cairns. Mackay and the Whitsundays missed out as well. They missed out on the $62.8 million local jobs task force which covers Cairns and Townsville. The Whitsundays is one of the areas hardest hit by the economic crisis, yet it's been completely left out of the local jobs task force. The federal government, the Morrison government, is leaving regional Queensland behind during this economic recession.

But they're not the only people the government decided to leave behind last night. When it comes to the Women's Economic Security Package, there's very little new funding for women and no funding certainty for the things that we really need to see in the future to secure women's economic certainty. There's no new funding for child care, to bring down the cost of living, and no plan or strategy for how we're going to improve childcare costs over the short term and the long term as well. There was a reannouncement of an announcement on domestic and family violence—funding that had already been announced was announced again. Do they think women won't notice, that we don't know how to read the budget papers and won't figure out that this is something they announced in March? There are zero dollars of new funding under that package. Women over 35 will miss out on the wage subsidy scheme, so older women will also miss out through this budget. And on paid parental leave changes that will make sure women who lose their job will still be eligible for PPL—which the government actually did include in the budget last night—they want a pat on the back for that measure. It is the least that they could do for women who have lost their job. I say to those opposite: we know that more women have lost their jobs during this economic crisis, and yet you want a pat on the back because women who are pregnant now are eligible for PPL? That is the least that you could do.

Of the top three things you've listed under the economic recovery plan for women—I've got it here—the first is the JobKeeper payment. Well, you've cut that and you're going to cut it again, so there goes that idea. Then you've got the JobMaker hiring credit. Well, that doesn't include women over 35, so we'll just forget about them. The next thing is tax relief. Okay, but everyone's getting that. That's not really just for women, is it? The economic response to women losing their jobs is for you— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.


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