ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
Labor is supportive of the third economic response to Coronavirus announced by the Morrison Government today.
We are particularly pleased the Government has adopted a wage subsidy following calls from Labor, unions, the business community, economists and other experts for one to keep people in jobs and connected to the workforce.
Labor will seek a briefing from the Government on the proposed wage subsidy and will examine the details.
We believe this measure is a step in the right direction.
However, we want to ensure the delay in announcing the wage subsidy doesn’t mean it is too late for many workers who have already been let go.
We also want to see it delivered quickly for many families and businesses already struggling.
The Government needs to get this right. It needs to take swift action, provide support where it’s needed quickly, and make sure gaps don’t remain.
Almost three weeks on from the original economic package, not a cent of Government support has been spent.
The Government has failed to address other gaps identified by Labor, and the latest announcement raises new concerns which we will work through, including:
- Concern that many casuals will miss out on the wage subsidy due to the 12-month provision;
- Payments to households, including to pensioners, will arrive too late;
- Many struggling families are still missing out on any support, including New Zealanders and temporary migrant workers who are not eligible for the JobSeeker Payment or Coronavirus Supplement;
- Cash flow assistance to businesses will arrive too late and may not help otherwise viable businesses most at risk of collapse;
- The need for clear and urgent action to assist renters;
- The expansion of early release superannuation risks undermining retirement incomes and compromising financial system stability, and should only be a last resort;
- The $1 billion regional and community support fund still lacks sufficient detail;
- The lack of more substantial support for charities, including food banks, and organisations that provide essential services to vulnerable Australians and keep our communities strong; and
- The absence of a coordinated, whole-of-economy plan and lack of urgently needed support and planning for essential and strategic industries, including but not limited to the airline industry, the early learning sector and the arts.
The Government’s delayed economic response to the outbreak has already pushed millions of Australians needlessly out of jobs and into the unprecedented queues seen around the country last week.
From the start of the Coronavirus crisis Labor has said we will be supportive and constructive. But we will also continue to advocate for Australians when there are clear gaps that must be filled.
We have already worked with the Government to secure important amendments and policies that boost support, including today’s announcement to lift the partner income threshold for the Jobseeker Payment which will provide much-needed relief to many families.
This is not the time for half measures.
Labor’s priority is to protect jobs, help Australian workers, businesses, families and communities through this difficult time, and ensure vulnerable Australians are supported.