Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today called on the Morrison Government to stop pretending the economy will just ‘snap back’ and start working on an economic plan that focuses on job creation and infrastructure investment.
Today’s unemployment figures are devastating news with 600,000 Australians losing their jobs in one month. These numbers are likely to disguise the real level of job loss as they don’t include people receiving the new JobKeeper payment – the Treasury estimate there are 7.2 million Australians on JobKeeper or JobSeeker.
Far too many local workers have been left out of the JobKeeper program including the University of Wollongong and dnata employees, many casual employees, international students and workers and people employed in the arts and entertainment industry. Labor has called on the government to broaden the JobKeeper program to help these workers through this crisis.
The Reserve Bank has estimated unemployment to hit 10% by June and the Illawarra Business Chamber has estimated that 12,500 people on the Illawarra and South Coast could be out of work.
Labor has welcomed the increase in benefits for unemployed people with the effective doubling of the old Newstart payment. We called for, and welcome, the wage subsidy scheme JobKeeper. It’s not perfect and needs fine tuning but it’s a start. Business and households need some certainty that this support will not be ripped away in September and remain in place for as long as large parts of the economy are prevented from operating as normal.
Illawarra and South Coast businesses have shown remarkable resilience and innovation but those business who will be impacted for a longer period will need ongoing support. The region also requires investment in infrastructure and local employment programs to ensure the long-term economic future of our local economy and to generate employment.
The Labor members highlighted the local infrastructure projects which could include tourism infrastructure, the Maldon-Dombarton rail link, Picton and Appin Road upgrades, improving the access ramps to the Princess Highway at Dapto and Albion Park and called for the Government to invest in social housing projects to boost the housing construction sector and provide much needed housing for homeless and low income families.
Small scale projects like local cycleway and footpath upgrades and a landcare and a pest eradication program should also be considered.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones:
“With unemployed set to soar to 10% it has never been more important for the Liberals to have a plan to get Australians back in work”.
“Locally there is no shortage of projects that could create local jobs. The only thing we are short of is a government with an economic plan”
Quotes attributable to Sharon Bird:
“I have been contacted by many businesses and workers in the Illawarra – they remain extremely concerned about their future. They are looking to government to invest in our region to assist the local economy and job creation.
Too many local employers and workers have been excluded from the JobKeeper program. The Treasurer can fix this with the stroke of his pen and he should do so.
As our region has a strong reliance on our university and tourism sectors which have been badly hit we also need the Federal Government to step up with a plan that will help our region.