Labor Says JobSeeker And JobKeeper May Need To Be Extended
Federal Labor is questioning Prime Minister Scott Morrison's belief the Australian economy will "snap back" once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and measures like JobSeeker and JobKeeper can be abruptly cut.
Labor's industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke says the economic projections so far provided by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg suggest it will be a long time before unemployment levels get back to what they were before the pandemic.
"I don't see how the prime minister's concept of snapback is going to work," Burke told ABC television's Insiders program on Sunday.
The JobSeeker payment - a doubling of the old Newstart dole payment to $1100 per fortnight - and JobKeeper payment - a wage subsidy of $1500 per fortnight to help keep people employed - have been legislated to run for six months.
But the government has suggested the latter could be wound back after a review of the scheme in June.
If anything, Burke says these programs will likely need extending.
"Unless you want people to suddenly be able to not pay their bills unless you want people to suddenly vacate the premises where they live and handing back the keys to homes that they've mortgaged, then the Government is going to have to look at extending this," he said.
"I certainly don't believe the hard deadlines that are there right now are going to be able to continue."
Labor's spokeswoman for families and social services Linda Burney wants to see the modelling for the impact of reducing the Jobseeker payment back to $40 per day.
She said last week the Department of Social Services estimated some 1.7 million Australians will require unemployment support by September.
"Yet the prime minister has been insistent that he will 'snapback' the JobSeeker payment back to $40 per day for millions of Australians on September 24," Burney said in a statement.
She said this is the equivalent of ripping almost $1 billion a fortnight from household budgets.
"This sudden stop will have a significant impact on the Australian economy," she said.
"The government needs to be honest about whether the nation is now edging closer to another economic cliff in the form of the prime minister's promised JobSeeker snapback."
The government had been adamant in not increasing the dole payment before the pandemic set in, despite widespread calls for an increase including from Labor, the Greens, business, economists and the Reserve Bank.
Newstart, as it was, had not been increased in some 25 years, aside from twice-yearly indexation against inflation.