Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Matters of Public Importance


4:38 pm

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Australians are facing the deepest, most damaging recession in almost 100 years , and they're facing a deep and damaging jobs crisis. The latest ABS figures saw a further fall in jobs and wages in every state and territory—every state and territory. Thirty thousand jobs were lost in the fortnight to 17 October, 470,000 jobs have been lost since the coronavirus outbreak began and a further 160,000 jobs are predicted to be lost by Christmas. The jobs crisis is only getting worse , and it will keep hurting workers and their families unless this government delivers a plan for good, secure jobs — a real plan for Australia's recovery. Instead, we have a government that is focused on slogans and not solutions, on cutting peoples' income and support and on slashing JobKeeper and JobSeeker while people are still struggling. We have a government that is going to rack up a trillion dollars in debt, but somehow fail to create the jobs that people need.

When the government delivered their budget last month, I really hoped they would finally deliver us a plan to create good, secure jobs—but, no. Somehow, the government managed to announce billions of dollars of spending, a trillion dollars of debt, without a full, comprehensive and detailed plan on how they're going to rebuild jobs. This was a budget of short-term, stopgap measures where obviously more focus had been given to the announcement and the headlines these measures could create than to how many jobs they would deliver and how they would help our recovery. Decisions taken by the Morrison government in this budget mean that this recession will be longer and deeper than necessary.

It's time they stop chasing headlines and start focusing on a real plan with detail for good, secure jobs. Those 160,000 workers don't need to lose their jobs, as predicted, by this Christmas. What they need is a government that includes them in their support packages. What they need is a government that doesn't withdraw support, like JobKeeper, too early, making their jobs more insecure. What they need is a government that has a plan for everyone. This is a government that finds it all too easy to leave people out or to leave people behind.

Remember when the Prime Minister told us, 'We're all in this together,' and when the government told us their support programs would be equal and that they wouldn't favour some over others? They told us that they would not leave the vulnerable behind. But this is a Prime Minister we know does not deliver. There are millions left out of JobKeeper; support has been slashed before people get back on their feet and programs have been announced and never delivered. That's what Australians have come to expect from the government. Right when Australians need the government to stand up for them the most, the government stand in front of the cameras and then they run away. They disappear to their next press conference, their next doorstop, and they forget about the delivery. One day 'we're all in this together' and the next day millions of workers are excluded from JobKeeper. So many workers missed out on JobKeeper, people who really needed that support: casuals, freelancers, temporary migrants, NDIS workers, university staff, arts and performance workers, local government employees, charity workers, international students, and let's not forget those hardworking early childhood educators who had JobKeeper ripped away early.

Now we're seeing more slicing and dicing of people by this government, more exclusions and more cutting people out, instead of bringing people in. The government have left almost a million workers out of their plans for the JobMaker hiring credit, excluding workers over the age of 35, employees who had been on JobKeeper and businesses which had been claiming JobKeeper right at a time when this jobs crisis is only getting worse and right at a time when JobKeeper is crucial for Australia's recovery. Excluding millions from support and then ripping those support programs away too fast is hurting Australia's recovery. Their decision to cut JobKeeper, to cut JobSeeker and to exclude too many workers and businesses from this hiring credit will mean that the recession will be deeper and the jobs crisis will be more devastating for Australian families. We've already seen the direct and damaging impact of this approach: a fall in jobs and wages in every state and territory in the first full fortnight after the Prime Minister cut JobKeeper too early.

Just like most of the Prime Minister's other announcements, JobMaker is big on promise and small on delivery. Only a month after it was announced in the budget, we found out that the JobMaker hiring credit program will actually create only 10 per cent of the jobs that the government promised: 45,000 instead of the 455,000 as claimed. This isn't the first time the Prime Minister has overpromised and underdelivered, because he's big on announcements and small on delivery. The government announced a $250 million arts rescue package months ago, but we found out at estimates that not a single dollar of that has been delivered. The government also promised big for Australian manufacturing—$1.5 billion—but they plan on spending only just three per cent of that this financial year. You always have to read the fine print with this government. These failures to deliver are costing jobs now.

This government delivered a big spending budget. They're racking up $1 trillion in debt, but we're not getting the bang for the buck that we need and Australians aren't getting the jobs that they need. Some promises in the budget didn't even last until the end of the budget month: JobMaker—450,000 places were claimed by the government but it is expected to create only 45,000 jobs; the technology road map—130,000 jobs were claimed but none were included in the budget; and the manufacturing announcement—80,000 direct jobs were claimed but none were included in the budget. These were promises designed purely for the photo op.

What about the other areas of policy that we know the government could invest in to create jobs? There was no plan in this budget for early childhood education, no plan for social housing, no plan for cheaper and cleaner energy and no plan for aged care. The budget had no real plan for jobs and it had no plan for the future.

If we really want to look out for workers and their families then we need to get this recovery right—a recovery with good secure jobs; a recovery for all Australians, not just some Australians. We need a plan for this recovery now. We need a plan that means making more of what we need right here in Australia, rebuilding and revitalising Australian manufacturing—manufacturing that delivers good secure jobs with decent wages. We need to get started on big transformative infrastructure projects that will actually improve people's lives—projects like high-speed rail and a new generation of high-quality social housing. We need a plan to guarantee apprenticeships on major federal projects, a plan to address the skills crisis by reinvesting in TAFE, a plan to recharge workforce participation of women, a plan to power our recovery with clean energy projects and renewables, and a plan to rebuild good secure jobs. That's what we need from this government—jobs people can count on, jobs people can plan a future on. This is what a Labor government would do.

It's time the government stopped focusing on their slogans, headlines and announcements. It's well past time that they actually delivered a plan for those good secure jobs that Australians are crying out for today—jobs with decent wages, jobs they can count on and jobs for all Australians, not just those the government decides to include. Our undervalued and overstretched essential workers need this plan. Over one million Australians who are out of work need this plan. Kids leaving school who are anxious about their futures need this plan. So it's time for the Prime Minister to commit to a recovery that includes good secure jobs at its foundation—a plan that includes more Australians and leaves no-one behind.


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