Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Matters of Public Importance


4:34 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to make a contribution to the debate on this matter of importance. I note that , for every job vacancy, we still have , on average, 12 people without work competing for that one job vacancy. What does this budget do? It a ctually doesn't put any further money into the JobSeeker payment past the end of December. The government had the coronavirus supplement , which I'm very much on the record as saying we support ed. But then the government cuts it , very prematurely , and announces its budget without announcing what's going to happen after the end of December, leaving people who are currently looking for work — the 1.8 million people that the government itself is predicting will be unemployed at the end of the year — uncertain and anxious about their future . S o not only did the government not commit to further extending the coronavirus supplement ; more importantly, they did not commit to a permanent increase in the JobSeeker payment, which everybody in this place knows is far too low at $40 a day. Then today the government say, 'Yes, we are going to extend the supplement to the end of March , but we're going to take another $100 off you . ' That means that th e people who are struggling to survive on the already cut supplement, which is actually below the poverty line, are going to be dropped even further below the poverty line , come 1 January 2021 . ' Happy New Year ' to th ose 1.8 million people who will be struggling below the poverty line on the JobSeeker payment, c ompeting for non-existent jobs.

The Treasurer's excuse today in question time for that was that the Australian economy is recovering , apparently . Tell that to the 1.8 million people who will be unemployed. We still have a long way to go to get back to employment rates before the recession. There are still twice as many people on unemployment payments as there were before the recession, chasing fewer jobs . A nd, by the way, if you're looking for an entry - level job, the stat s are much worse than 12 people competing for the one job; they are much higher and it is much harder. Millions of Australians are still unemployed, looking for more work to make ends meet , and there are over a million children who will be a ffected by this, who will be living in poverty . Because the government has cut the JobSeeker payment , effectively— because the coronavirus supplement is paid to those on JobSeeker, youth allowance and a number of other payments — they will be struggling below the poverty line. It is simply cruel and unfair .

Not only did the government not put that into the budget; they have now made this announcement that they will extend the payment through to 31 March. What are people going to do beyond 31 March? And w hat do you think people are going to do in the run-up to Christmas? They're not going to be spending a lot of money in the run-up to Christmas , because they know that another $100 cut is coming at them and they're potentially going back to $40 a day at the end of March. Actually, the labour market, and because the economy is recovering— (Time expired)


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