Calls for JobKeeper cuts to be reversed

Opposition parties and unions say Covid-related job losses are still too high to cut JobKeeper.
Opposition parties and unions say Covid-related job losses are still too high to cut JobKeeper.

Unions and federal opposition parties are up in arms that the Morrison government is allowing the JobKeeper wage subsidy to be cut when many workers are still relying on it, with parts of the economy still shut down.

From Monday, JobKeeper will be reduced from $1500 a fortnight to $1200 for full-time workers and to $750 for part time workers.

"In the face of unacceptably high unemployment, the Morrison government has today cut vital JobKeeper support for millions of Australians, without any jobs plan to replace it," Labor's finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher told AAP.

While the jobless rate fell to 6.8 per cent in August, both the Reserve Bank and Treasury expect it will rise again.

Greens Leader and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt said his party will move to stop the cuts in the Senate.

"We are not in a position in Australia at the moment to be pushed off that financial cliff, especially in Melbourne," Mr Bandt told ABC television's Insiders program.

"Around the country, 12 people looking for every one job that is available at the moment and the social distancing restrictions are continuing to stay in force and that stops a lot of businesses to get back on their feet."

ACTU president Michele O'Neil said these cuts will hit the most vulnerable the hardest.

"We also know that these cuts will hurt small business and the economy because it is critical to the recovery from this recession that money is put in the hands of working people to spend," she said in a statement.

"These cuts come in the lead-up to Christmas at the end of an incredibly hard year and will be a huge blow to millions of families."

She said the cuts to JobKeeper - and to the JobSeeker dole payment which came into effect last Friday - should be reversed.

"The program should be expanded to cover casuals, visa workers and industries like arts and higher education which the government arbitrarily excluded," Ms O'Neil said.

Australian Associated Press