Let’s get to work as government support nears end


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Hi Tide at the Peninsula Boutique Hotel in Port Douglas is just one of the many local businesses currently looking for workers. Image: Karlie Brady.
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As the Federal Government winds down its financial support, there is the hope that this will drive people back into the job market.

JobSeeker has been cut from $250 to $150 a fortnight and JobKeeper reduced to $1000 from $1200 for full-time workers and from $750 to $650 a fortnight for part-time employees. Both forms of payment will cease on March 31.

The cuts will affect more than one million Australians as the Government continues to wind back coronavirus assistance.

And the message that there are jobs available, has been echoed by Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr who said if you want money, there is work out there. 

“Port Douglas and Mossman have been extremely busy recently. Some of the areas where there are jobs include housekeeping, hospitality and fruit picking.

“Business in Port Douglas or Mossman should not have to use Cairns agency staff for their businesses. It’s time for reality to kick in. As I said there is work out there; it’s time,” said Kerr.

In an ABC report, analysis by the Grattan Institute found the coronavirus supplement, at its peak, lifted those on unemployment benefits above both the relative poverty line — equivalent to 50 per cent of the median income — and the Henderson poverty line.

The Henderson line is based on a benchmark income set in the 1970s required to support the basic needs of a family of two adults and two dependent children.

It was the first time in more than 20 years that Australian welfare payments had exceeded either poverty measure, the report said.

Kerr said his biggest fear with JobKeepers’ new format is that the business owner has to pay it first and then reclaim it back from the ATO.

“While it’s currently busy and businesses have some cash flow, it's not so bad. But we are about to enter our quieter months and business owners, who are currently at least 30% down in their revenue to be eligible, are going to be expected to pay these staff a guaranteed amount first before being able to claim it back.

“I hope that it is incentive enough for them to keep all their staff on over this period. As for JobSeeker, I believe it’s time to bring that back to normal.”

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