Speech: The end of JobKeeper

Speech: The end of JobKeeper Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (15:34):  Once again I rise today to talk about this government's failure to help local workers in my electorate, because, despite the ongoing calls to do more, despite the pleas and the cries from businesses and workers doing it tough, the government is pushing full steam ahead with its cuts to JobKeeper from the end of the month—cuts that will see almost 1,500 local businesses and more than 4,500 workers in Gilmore left without support, cuts that are pretending everything is back to normal and there is no more need to help.

No-one is saying that we should continue paying JobKeeper to businesses that don't need it anymore. Many businesses have graduated off the program, and that is fantastic news. That's exactly what should happen. I've spoken to many local businesses who are in that situation and delighted to be standing on their own two feet again. But the reality is that there are some businesses and industries that are a long way from recovering and being able to survive on their own.

Ignoring the fact that the pandemic is still significantly impacting on some businesses disproportionately to others is simply irresponsible. It beggars belief. International borders are still closed indefinitely. State borders are still precarious at times. People are not travelling as they were before the pandemic, and our tourism businesses, which rely heavily on international tourists, can't just magically be okay. But that seems to be what the government wants them to do.

Time and time again, the government says it's listening. It tells businesses in my electorate on the New South Wales South Coast that it cares and that it hears them. Then it announces a so-called tourism rescue package that actually encourages tourists away from the South Coast. It incentivises people to travel elsewhere this year. The package they announced last week—which, let's be honest, is aimed at the airline industry, not the tourism industry—won't do a thing to help struggling tourism operators in our community. Moruya Airport, a wonderful regional airport on the Far South Coast in my electorate, has been left off the 'ticket to recovery' list. Shellharbour Airport, slightly to the north of my electorate but with the potential to bring people to Kiama and the Shoalhaven, has been left off the list as well. Why? Who knows? I certainly don't. The entire package is just another example of flashy announcement and failed delivery by the Morrison Government.

It's not the first time. In December, they announced a package which was meant to help travel agents, a group I have been strongly advocating for over months and months. But, almost as soon it was announced, it was clear the package was a dud. Agents from across my electorate contacted me in droves to tell me of their disappointment and their heartache. It was devastating for them. After fighting so hard for help for so long, they were not going to be eligible and this so-called rescue was not going to help them. Our tourism operators and travel agents deserve better. Our independent cinemas, another struggling group, deserve better. There's been no real help for them either.

The government have simply not taken the time or simply don't care to work out which industries need targeted support and how to give it to them. Instead they keep looking after their corporate mates, ticking the box on COVID recovery and patting themselves on the back for a job well done while local businesses and local workers pay the price. It is infuriating, and it is totally unacceptable. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senator Molan even came to the South Coast to hear directly from local travel agents and tourism operators, only to have their government announce, just weeks later, a package that not only won't help but will hurt them. Is that what it means for the Morrison Government to listen to people—to listen but do nothing?

Well, I have been listening, and I won't stand by while they do nothing. I won't stand by while this government makes its flashy announcements but rips the rug out from under thousands of local people in our community. Those workers and those businesses deserve better. They need an extension of JobKeeper. They need the government to finally stand up and end the uncertainty and stress that they are facing now. They need targeted support programs for the industries that cannot recover while borders remain closed and the pandemic continues to impact, and I will keep standing here with them every day until they get it.