LOCAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE END OF JOBKEEPER

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:42): At the end of this week, we will see the cessation of the JobKeeper supplement to support local businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic impacts that has had. I want to report to the House, on behalf of many of my local businesses and local workers, my great frustration about the effect that this is going to have in our local area.

The frustration is exacerbated by the fact we now know that about one in five businesses who receive JobKeeper actually ended up doing better, or as well, as they had before the pandemic and are not being required by the government to put that money back into the pot, so we might actually be able to target it back out to businesses that are affected. It certainly doesn't happen this way if you think you need a Centrelink payment and then you discover you don't; the government's pretty quick to come and take that back from you. But now we have businesses in this situation where they received it, they actually ended up doing better than they had the year before, and there's no requirement for them to give it back. At the same time, I've got businesses in my local area who, because of the way the government structured JobKeeper, were never eligible to get it. We've seen a lot of pressure, particularly with tourism, travel—I've spoken about the travel industry a lot in this House—hospitality and the university here. So many jobs have been lost because businesses weren't eligible to get JobKeeper under the way that it was structured.

Just so that the chamber and the government are clear, there are real people at the end of this. I want to share with the House today an email I received in the last week: 'Dear Sharon, I hope this note finds you well. My wife Rosemary is a travel agent. She's been in the industry for 40 years, and started originally with Peter Morton in Port Kembla. Rosemary is currently working at Merola's in Corrimal and has been there for 15 years. She's been headhunted by a few agencies over the years.

At the end of the month, she will lose her job. JobKeeper has kept her in the industry until now, but that money will have been wasted unless her expertise is retained within travel. Travel agents are primarily used by people travelling overseas—some 85 per cent it has been estimated. When Rosemary and others of her experience leave, they cannot be replaced. Experience cannot be taught without TAFE. Rosemary is 60 this year. She is petrified. Jobs for females aged 60 and over are few. Some form of assistance must be given to travel agencies and their employees.' That was from Robert Green, who lives at Woonona in my electorate. There are real people at the end of the decisions towards the end of this week. The government needs to hear their voices and do something for them.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.