24 March 2021

SUBJECTS: JobKeeper; JobSeeker; Craig Kelly; WA Labor.

MATT KEOGH MP, SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR SMALL BUSINESS: Good morning. So it is today 32 days until JobKeeper comes to an end under the Morrison government. The Morrison government has still refused to give any certainty to small business with only 32 days to go until JobKeeper comes to an end. What's quite clear is that the Morrison government doesn't understand what's happening for small business in Australia in the real world. Small Business through this entire Coronavirus crisis have had to deal with the fact that they've had to defer rent, they've had to defer mortgages. They've had to acquire credit from their suppliers. They've had to take on loans just to be able to get their businesses to keep on going. And so whilst the coronavirus pandemic is still raging, come the 28th of March it's not all going to come to a shuddering halt, those debts are not going to come to a shuddering halt either. The Morrison government, Josh Frydenberg - the Treasurer, tried to say that the economy's come roaring back and business will be fine. But what they don't appreciate is everything that's accumulated over the time of the Coronavirus crisis to withdraw support from small business across Australia and the 1.3 million people that are employed by those businesses relying on JobKeeper. But just as those rent deferrals and mortgage deferrals are coming to an end as well, won’t just leave those business vulnerable. That means that they're facing additional pressure, that may mean that those businesses come to a premature end. And as Treasury has said, they expect at least 100,000 people are going to lose their job as a consequence of this come the 28th of March. 

JOURNALIST: What did you think as well of the JobSeeker rate yesterday, three, about three and a half dollars a day? What are your colleagues saying?

KEOGH: Well, I think the government's now made its announcement around JobSeeker, we've got to see the detail in the legislation that they're going to propose that a less than a 10% increase on the JobSeeker rate is pretty minimal. I think people understand that going from $40 a day to $43 a day is hardly much to be looked at and Linda Burney, our Shadow Minister in this area will have further to say about that. 

JOURNALIST: What do you think? Would you think it's likely that Labor will pass this and perhaps commit to a review of this in government?

KEOGH: Well, as I said, we've got to now see what the government actually put into the legislation, they've announced a dollar figure, they've announced some other changes that they want to make. But we've got to see the whole package together before we make any comment about how we’re going to respond. 

JOURNALIST: What are you thinking about Craig Kelly's defection today? 

KEOGH: Well, I think, I think with Craig Kelly, sacking himself from the Liberal Party, he’s managed to do the one thing that Scott Morrison couldn't do and should have done a long time ago. 

JOURNALIST: What do you think as well? In regards to the WA Election campaign, with McGowan, that Newspoll over the weekend, he’s on track to have the biggest ever scorecard in the election in Australian history at all? I mean, that's pretty impressive. 

KEOGH: Look, I think if there's one thing that us Federal MP’s have learned, over the last couple of years, is we don't put too much faith in newspoll. But it's safe to say that what Western Australians are seeming to express and I think, hopefully will express at the polling booth in the middle of March, is that they've seen how the Mark McGowan WA Labor Government has kept WA strong. They had a strong border that kept Western Australians safe. Even when Scott Morrison and his Attorney General Christian Porter decided to side with Clive Palmer to try and bring down the WA border which would have left Western Australians less safe. They know that it's the WA Labor Party that have been on the side of Western Australians and keeping them safe and strong, keeping the state safe and keeping the economy strong, not just keeping these economies strong for Western Australia. Frankly, it's been the WA economy that has been leading the way for the nation's economy as well. 

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the Liberals line there about total control, is this a ploy to try and save seats at risk? 

KEOGH: Well, I think it is completely duplicitous of the Liberal Party of Western Australia to try and claim that if Labor gets more seats in the Legislative Council, it'll somehow have total control. Labor has never controlled the Legislative Council in Western Australia. But every time there is a Liberal government in WA, they have total control of both houses. It is completely duplicitous of the WA Liberal Party to try and make this total control claim. The reality is they were wrong on keeping Western Australians safe. They made the wrong calls, they attacked the Premier they attacked the WA government for doing what was necessary to keep WA safe and strong. And they're on the wrong side of this argument. And I think that’s why we will find such strong support from Mark McGowan and his WA Labor team.