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Jobs plan must be a way forward, says ACTU

On the day where the Morrison government’s announced cuts to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker subsidies take effect, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have taken another opportunity to push its jobs-based plan for economic recovery – with the reading of the federal budget now just ten days away.

Michele O’Neil, the president of the ACTU, points out that from early May when the first JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments went out to its recipients until Friday, when the cuts took place, it allowed an all-too-brief glimpse of relief out of poverty for more than a million people on JobSeeker alone.

In essence, those on JobSeeker will lose more than half of their supplement added to the old NewStart allowance, roughly $300 per fortnight to $250 received per fortnight, while approximately 3.5 million JobKeeper recipients will be losing either $300 per fortnight or up to $750 per fortnight, depending on whether any given employee meets the threshold of working 80 hours per fortnight.

Therefore, while those on JobKeeper will still receive $1200 per fortnight at Tier 1 and up to $750 per fortnight at Tier 2, each before tax, JobSeeker recipients have had their payments cut from approximately $1130 per fortnight to $830 per fortnight, tax-free.

Whereas JobSeeker recipients had become accustomed to receiving an average of $80 per day with the full supplementary payments, twice the amount of the old NewStart allowance alone, they are now having to get by on an average of $58 per day.

“This crisis has shown how much a small increase in JobSeeker payments can improve quality of life for working people and their families, but the Morrison Government seems determined that its legacy should be poverty for those who have lost their jobs during the greatest economic downturn in a century,” said Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president.

And while hope is currently leading to another round of gloom and despair, the projected statistical impact of JobSeeker cuts may equate to the worst being yet to come.

According to global financial advisory firm Deloitte, the warning over the JobSeeker supplement cuts could cost the Australian economy $31.3 billion and up to 145,000 jobs over a two-year span.

 

Image from getup.org.au

 

And with JobSeeker set for another rollback to its original NewStart allowance values as of December 31, pending further negotiations and changes in the government’s policies, the losses could mount even higher.

While unemployment figures cited by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) dropping by 0.7 per cent in the month of August, from 7.5 to 6.8 per cent, the under-employment rate – defined as those casual and part-time workers employed for 20 hours per week or less – remained at 11.2 per cent.

Despite apparent gains on the unemployment front, according to deputy opposition leader Richard Marles, the ALP member for Corio in Geelong’s northern suburbs, finding a job is more challenging than ever for the unemployed and under-employed.

“In Australia right now, there are 13 people unemployed for every job that is available,” Marles told the Today show last week.

“In regional Australia – and here in Geelong – that’s much worse, it is 23 people to every job that’s available,” Marles added.

The ACTU has advocated for the Morrison government to adopt its jobs-based plan to stimulate economic growth out of the double-whammy of the COVID-19 pandemic and a once-in-a-generation recession on multiple occasions, and while the government has steadfastly refused to take the ACTU up on its generous offer, perhaps there is no time like the present to swallow its pride on behalf of a whole nation.

In July, the ACTU released its blueprint for that, entitled the National Economic Reconstruction Plan (NERP), which focused on five key areas:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Training For Reconstruction
  • Rediscover Australia
  • National Reconstruction Investment Plan
  • and a Sustainable Marketing Strategy

Recently, the ACTU’s push for its NERP plan has been justified even further due to the influx of new statistics and developments.

Tourism, an industry covered under the “Rediscover Australia” element, has taken a major hit so far during the pandemic, given the locking-down of state borders and the lack of international tourists that have been able to fly into Australia since the pandemic was called by the Morrison government in March.

The ABS revealed on Friday that for the financial year ending last June, employment within the tourism industry fell by a whopping 15.1 per cent, and the retail sector of the hospitality industry – defined in the report to single out cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services – suffered a loss of just over 34,000 jobs while the accommodation sector decreased by 24,000 jobs.

“However, all areas of tourism have been impacted,” said Jonathan Khoo, the ABS’s director of tourism statistics, emphasising that the total fall of tourism jobs exists as the lowest on record.

“Given the challenges that tourism continues to face, we expect future releases of this data will show further impacts of COVID-19 on tourism activity,” added Khoo.

Additionally, the ACTU also advocates for the reinvestment in training institutes, such as with the TAFE system which had been gutted with budget cuts dating back to Tony Abbott’s government, as a staple of its NERP blueprint.

“To lift the country out of recession, we need to create secure jobs and make sure there are pathways for local workers into those jobs,” said Scott Connolly, the ACTU’s assistant secretary.

Moreover, O’Neil cites that the Morrison government has its priorities misplaced, cutting subsidies for people who need it most rather than focusing on a jobs-based plan that can bolster the economy.

“Despite not having a plan for how to get people back into jobs, the Morrison Government is now cutting support for the people in our community who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” said O’Neil.

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5 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Parliamentary government has become a monument to stupidity, futility, misrewarding mediocrity, allowing the ignorant and greedy to career up from nothing, through bribery and corruption, to position, notice and ill deserved wealth. Australia has a fairly rotten past in politics, a rotten present and concentrated putridy on the horizon. The repositories of wisdom (Abbott the F wit should observe) exist in tertiary education areas, in public service departments with senior civil servants, and in some organisations, business, charities, retirees of standing. Election is merely a perverted, corruptible, exaggerated form of popularity whereby a backward sheep could represent, say, New England. (ironically, that happens) No one has ever been elected to better levels of intelligence, experience, morals or ethics. However, an expectation exists and we want our representatives to rise high in effort and achievement. We have inflicted upon us duds, failures, who refuse to see that, admit it, be modest. My old classmate Jack Howard was such a misfit, an empty vacuum (hah) but wilful in his fuhrer obsession to deny mediocrity and embrace fantasy of self majesty. It ruins us all. So, seek (jobs) and ye shall find (little) for the government understands so little of the essentials of supporting a limping economy and a fading society. But they can Effing well pose, take the donations, rig the insider network, pat supporters and donors and patrons like dogs, thus keeping the mafioso gangship going. More blood can be squeezed before we get to blood, bone, or a cadaverous state. A few rich here and everywhere else may well spit on the lesser work seekers, but this government should keep up high levels of support and assist the needy who deserve real help to stimulate a consumer economy.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Phil, there’s not one single word I disagree with in your assessment. ✊

  3. pierre wilkinson

    If only we had an effective Opposition that could call out the incompetence, corruption and negligence of this rabble of maladroit misfits

  4. DrakeN

    Phil Pryor, I agree we you completely.

    On the ‘jobs’ front, I disagree with everyone who claims that jobs for everyone is the panacea for the social and communal disfunctions with which we are incumbered.
    ‘Jobs’ which exist mainly as a means by which an employer can leverage the work of the employe to render a profit and, for the employee no more than a means to an income, those ‘jobs’ destroy the individual and all of those who encounter them.

    The unemployable, the ill, the disabled and the aged social welfare dependence gain nothing from an abundance of ‘jobs’, nor do those for whom employment commensurate with their inclinations, skills and education are simply not available.
    What is actually required is a stable income to provide for a decent existence from which the recipitent may be able to provide services to their communities and societies which are otherwise non-commercial and therefore currently significantly neglected.

    An Universal Basic Income in countries such as ours is abuntantly affordable, subject only to a more equitable distribution of the nation’s resources.
    That the ‘top-end-of-town’ can garner enough income per capita to provide for at least a couple of hundred ordinary families is nothing short of evil, and that 10% of the population individually hold more wealth than the combined assets of the lowest 50% would be shameful if those at the ‘top’ had the capacity to feel such an emotion.

    Our world is controlled by avaricious and power hungry sociopathic psychopaths.

  5. wam

    The government has its beliefs which drive its decisions. The beliefs are unsound but to believe is truth despite what lord says their truth is stronger than his. Who will change??.
    A powerful respected Aussie unionist died in may what would sydney be without mundey? Where will Australia be without the ACTU??
    Where will we be in 12 months without labor and union input???
    ps
    Our politics is controlled by ‘I’m alright jack’ but the lawyers and autocuists tell me that I may not be ok under socialism.
    I agree that the lawyers are the first lined up and shot under a coup. The are trained to lie and to accept lying from them and theirs as long as it can be rationalised as true.
    Our world is controlled by the mystery section of every news bulletin. I and my friends have no idea why a drop of 6 out of 11121.13 has any significance.

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