JobKeeper

Yesterday the House passed the JobKeeper extension measure, which of course Labor supports, and now it's on its way to the Senate. I put out a JobKeeper survey to businesses in my electorate. One of the responses was, 'I'm very grateful for the JobKeeper allowance, as it helps me pay the bills and buy food.' That's what it's all about: keeping people attached to their businesses, their places of work, and making sure they can pay bills and buy food. It's worth remembering that the Prime Minister opposed the idea of a wage subsidy when Labor and the unions proposed it. This is a Labor and unions initiative. It wouldn't have occurred without us. Yesterday government MPs lined up in the House to extoll the virtues of JobKeeper. It's important to note that this was a Labor and union initiative. But too many are still missing out. This is the great tragedy: government MPs were lining up yesterday to say how great JobKeeper has been and how important it's been for their electorates, yet they are not extending the benefits of JobKeeper to more than a million Australians who are missing out. It's a great tragedy.

One element of the legislation that Labor did not want to see go through the House yesterday was the element that allows businesses that are recovering from the pandemic to continue to cut the hours of their employees. As the Manager of Opposition Business mentioned, some businesses who continue to suffer a 10 per cent cut in their turnover can cut up to 40 per cent of the hours of their workers. So businesses that are doing better can cut the hours of their workers. We hope that that provision is knocked out before this legislation gets to the Senate. Labor moved those amendments yesterday, but the government saw fit not to support them. That is a great shame, but we do hope that the government sees sense and knocks that provision out.

The burden of this pandemic should not fall on workers and their families trying to make ends meet. It is unfair. It is unfair to employees, to wage earners, to expect them to cut their hours and cut their pay—cut their pay by nearly half. If you're a shift worker doing night shifts or weekend work, you could lose up to half your pay under this provision. It's unconscionable that the economic burden of this pandemic should fall from the shoulders of government to the shoulders of wage earners and their families. Workers and struggling businesses could be losing up to half their pay, going from $800 to $400. So we certainly hope the government will see sense and cut that provision out of the legislation when it gets to the Senate.