Senate debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

JobKeeper Payment

3:09 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety) Share this | Hansard source

) ( ): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Birmingham) to questions without notice asked by Senators Gallagher and Gallacher today relating to the JobKeeper and JobMaker Hiring Credit schemes.

I know this sounds like an oxymoron because there were no answers to the questions. Here we go, another day, another announcement from this mob over here. Come the end of March what we do know is that some 3½ million jobs that are currently being supported by JobKeeper are going to end.

We also know there was a $4 billion announcement from this mob over here, saying they are going to create opportunities for employers to get some money to create opportunities for young people. Their figure was 450,000 jobs. So when senators Gallagher and Gallacher asked Minister Birmingham how many jobs would be lost, typically, we got nothing. We shouldn't sound surprised. As someone who experienced youth unemployment in my home town of Fremantle back in the 90s, there was nothing worse than seeing 21 per cent or 22 per cent, whatever it was, youth unemployment in Freo, let alone the youth unemployment that is going to come now. What we do know is that for the majority of these jobs in hospitality, retail and such, the good chances are there will be a lot of young people who will be unemployed.

But the problem I have with this announcement of JobMaker—everything has a 'job' in front of it—is it is so smoky, it is so murky and it is so lacking in detail. Senator Birmingham is always half too cute. Senator Birmingham thinks that the best way he can deflect and not have to answer a question is to scream into the microphone at decibels that normally pierce all our ears. He thinks he has got away with it. Well, Senator Birmingham, you are in for a rude shock. You didn't get away with it because one of your failings is you get a little bit too clever. You said you could almost work out what the supplementaries would be.

Senator Birmingham also said something about a report in the media. Well, the report in the media that you would be referring to, the only one I have seen so far, actually related to a freedom-of-information request by the ABC. It was a freedom-of-information request, Senator Birmingham—while you are trying to deflect with your loud voice and not answering questions—of Treasury documents. Quite simply, this was from Treasury, not from The Guardian, The Betoota Advocate or the right-wing media you guys read. These documents show very clearly that through the Treasury's own examples obtained by the ABC freedom-of-information process, bosses could sack a full-time employee on $75,000 and replace him or her with three part-time staff on wages of between $22,000 and $30,000 while remaining in front financially, thanks to the generous JobMaker Hiring Credit. It is pretty simple. Opposition senators didn't make it up; that is Treasury—you know that mob down the road down here.

My other fear is getting rid of older workers. It is a well-known fact. You would think if this mob over there had any decency they would be trying to work out how to do this properly, how to do it sincerely and how to look after all workers. What about rural workers? You hear the peanut gallery over here, the doormats, who are carrying on all the time. I miss 'Bossie'. What happened to the last of the real Nats—'Bossie', Senator Barry O'Sullivan and Senator 'Wacka' Williams—the real decent representatives of the regions? The rest of you should be ashamed. I would bring them back tomorrow. They have forgotten more than this mob will ever know about representing regions. What about all these jobs in the regions? We heard those opposite banging on a couple of weeks ago. Where are they now? The silence is deafening. There is the laugh when you see the blue sign that looks like the green and yellow sign. What do you call yourselves? Regional Liberals. I forgot Senator Heffernan; he would not have put up with this nonsense. They were the good old representatives of the conservative side of politics for regional jobs, not this lot over here—absolutely shameful. Some of you are alright; I take it back.

Here we go again. It just makes sense that, not all but some, employers would do this. How lip-smackingly exciting would it be to have the opportunity for some unscrupulous employers to get rid of older employees, casualise their full-time jobs or put them on part-time? Here we go again, insecure work taking away full-time jobs for permanent jobs. Seriously, where is your moral compass? If you are going to do something, do it properly. What are the unintended consequences—not smarty alec answers at decibels that pierce people's ears, that don't answer anything? (Time expired)


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