Address to Aviation Workers

04 June 2020

An address to dnata and aviation workers at Brisbane Airport.


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks very much Pete. G'day everybody. Thanks for the opportunity to be with you today. From where I stand right now, I'm looking at the workers that Scott Morrison has left out and left behind. You are in many ways the workers that he is prepared to sacrifice to the first recession in this country for 29 years. That recession will be longer and deeper, the unemployment queues will be longer and more difficult, and the recovery will be harder to get going if he continues to leave workers like you in the lurch and continues to exclude you from programs like the JobKeeper program.

It wasn't that long ago that Scott Morrison was saying that in this country if you have a go, you get a go. Now he’s saying to all of you, well you had a go, now off you go - to Centrelink. That's not good enough. It doesn't make any sense to us. I was talking to Sitesh about this before. He lives in my community in Marsden. It doesn't make any sense that Scott Morrison has drawn this arbitrary line. He's said to some workers, you get on that side of the line, and he said to all of you, you get on the other side of the line. It doesn't make any sense at all.

In times like these when things are difficult - and they'll be difficult for some time, we are in the first recession in three decades - our responsibility as Australians is to look out for each other and to look after each other. Our Prime Minister instead looks after some of us, but not some of you. He draws that arbitrary line and it makes no sense to exclude you. It makes no sense to say to some workers in our country that because you've got some kind of ownership structure then you qualify. You didn't decide who owns your companies, it wasn't up to you. You're Australian workers, looking after Australian families here in Australia, paying that money, supporting local businesses in your own communities so you shouldn't be excluded from JobKeeper.

This problem that we've got in the economy will be that much worse because of the exclusion of good workers like yourselves from JobKeeper, the absence of a plan for aviation, and the way that this Government is leaving Virgin Australia workers in the lurch and out in the cold as well.

Josh Frydenberg yesterday was boasting that our recession is better than the Americans'. Well, that's cold comfort, isn't it? That kind of boast, that it's better than it is in America as America tears itself apart in lots of ways, or this boast that things are a little bit better than he thought they might have been a couple of months ago doesn't pay your rent or your mortgage, does it? That doesn't put food on your table, or school shoes on your kids. We need and expect much better from this Government.

I wanted to leave you with one assurance. I gave this assurance in the Parliament. Simon, Jared, Arthur and I were talking about it a moment ago as well. We will continue to fight for you. We will continue to make the case for you to be included in JobKeeper, for the workers at Virgin to be looked after, and for there to be a genuine plan for aviation, because you're important. Whether it's Anika, Anthony, Bart, or Pete and your union, we will never forget that recessions aren't about numbers on a spreadsheet. They're not some cold calculation, moving numbers around on a computer screen. Times like these are about real people in real communities like ours, like the one that Sitesh and I live in, and the communities that you're all from. It's about your families and your neighbours. It's about your jobs most of all, and how you look after the people that you love. We will never forget that in the Labor Party, even if the Government has forgotten that for now. And will fight for you every single day.

Thanks very much.