19 March 2021

Stop to JobKeeper will cost the ACT $4.6 million a week: Labor

| Dominic Giannini
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Gungahlin

According to Labor, Belconnen and Gungahlin will be hit hard by the end of JobKeeper. Photo: File.

Belconnen and Gungahlin will be the hardest hit regions in the ACT when the JobKeeper wage subsidy comes to an end, according to data released by Labor, which also found more than 3100 businesses and almost 9700 employees across the ACT will be affected.

Territory-wide, Labor estimates this will take $4.6 million out of the local economy every week.

Around 560 businesses and more than 1700 workers in Belconnen and just under 500 businesses and 1500 workers in Gungahlin will be affected.

The Federal Government was peppered with questions in Parliament on Wednesday (17 March) over its decision to end the supplement entirely while the pandemic is continuing. The Opposition has called for an extension to the measure, but Treasurer Josh Frydenburg said that JobKeeper was always intended to be a temporary measure.

The program has put almost $1 billion into the ACT economy, he said.

Just over the border in Eden-Monaro, more than 5300 workers will lose around $2.6 million every week, local member Kristy McBain said.

“Entire sectors, including tourism and hospitality, will be denied the government support that has kept them afloat and given them hope,” she said.

“The day-to-day weight that comes with this kick to the guts is real – especially for the already traumatised communities of Eden-Monaro.”

Ms McBain said that businesses in the Bega Valley lost their income over the last two summers and that half lacked confidence they would remain viable over the next 12 months.

The coronavirus supplement, which is currently $150 a fortnight, and the extended eligibility for JobSeeker, will also end on 31 March, in a move that the social services sector has criticised.

More than 12,000 Canberrans are still on the JobSeeker payment, according to figures from the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS), almost double the pre-COVID level.

The government raised the payment base rate by about $4 a day, meaning a single person on the payment will receive just over $310 a week.

ACTCOSS has called for the increase to go further, saying the rate would need to be increased to $65 a day to bring it above the poverty line.

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HiddenDragon6:45 pm 21 Mar 21

If Labor was so concerned about this, they might have told Jim Chalmers to shut up with his regular “debt and deficit” attacks on the federal government.

The temptation to score points and to deliver payback for the criticism that the then federal Labor government copped over the spending prompted by the GFC is understandable, but bleating and hand-wringing about the people who will be hurt when Jobkeeper stops looks more than a little bit hypocritical when there are simultaneous attacks on debt and deficits.

Demands that a targeted version of Jobkeeper be adopted are still inconsistent with those attacks – just a bit less so – as are claims that Jobkeeper could be maintained if other unspecified and unquantified spending was cut.

Those on Jobkeeper payments will unfortunately probably have to transition onto Jobseeker (Centrelink). I wish them luck finding a job. More importantly, what’s Andrew Barr doing to help low income people? Is he building public housing for the poor, or is he building developments for his mates?

Capital Retro11:35 am 20 Mar 21

It will save the taxpayer the same amount.

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