ADJOURNMENT - Burt responds to the Federal Budget

By Matt Keogh MP

07 October 2020

Watch Matt's speech here

I rise this evening to ensure that the Treasurer and this parliament are aware of the views of the community that I represent on last night's federal budget, because it's my job to ensure that their voices are heard here in our national parliament. Marilyn said, 'The Morrison LNP government left the people that need the help the most behind.' Peter said, 'The real losers are the people over 35 in casual jobs who will be sacked or lose a lot of hours so bosses can get on the "employ young workers" gravy train.' Damo pointed out, 'It sounds like they're playing the old trickle-down economics card—tax cuts that benefit the rich and big business first. We all know how that ends.' On child care, Maureen was pulling no punches when she said: 'They don't want women with children to work. They're stuck in the 1950s, where a woman's place was in the home and the husband earned the money and decided how it was spent.' There was no beating around the bush from Greg, either, when he said, 'The LNP show utter contempt for the seniors, the disabled, the unemployed and low-paid workers.' And Dave, with a poetic nod to the Prime Minister's favourite phrase, said, 'How good is a tax cut if you don't have a job?'

The federal budget handed down last night has no bang for buck. It will rack up a trillion dollars of debt, and still that won't do enough to create enough jobs. It fails to build for the future and leaves too many Australians behind. The government tries to claim that its budget is a plan for jobs. Well, under its plan for jobs, it's going to produce an additional 160,000 new unemployed people before Christmas. How on earth is that a plan for jobs? That is indeed a plan for more no-jobs. So, whilst a million unemployed people over the age of 35 have been deliberately excluded from the hiring subsidies that are contained in the government's budget and while the average worker will receive a $50 per fortnight tax cut, millions on JobKeeper have seen their payment cut by at least $300 a fortnight.

In Burt alone, around 4,000 businesses and the 15,000 people that they employ rely on JobKeeper. But the government's recent JobKeeper changes could see many thousands of those workers thrust into the unemployment queues. Every local business in Burt that I speak to is worried not only about how the changes to JobKeeper might affect them and their employees but how decreases in JobSeeker and JobKeeper will affect their communities and their customers. You don't have to be a finance minister who's put together seven federal budgets to work out that less money trickling into people's pockets means less money flowing into the local economy. You would think that this is the issue that the government should have been addressing with this budget.

Across the country, we're in a deep and very damaging recession. While we're lucky in WA to be seeing positive results on the coronavirus front, many are still struggling to keep food on the table and look after their families. This budget does little to repair that damage. Our south-eastern suburbs have missed out on any announced federal funding for infrastructure projects, meaning that we will get nothing to support local job opportunities and our local economy.

The problems don't stop there. There is little support for the caring economy—child care, aged care—or indeed to support the unemployed aged over 35 in getting into the workforce, many of whom have children in child care and have no choice but to stay at home to care for their loved ones. What a perverse way to drive down the participation rate. The price of child care in our community is already well above the national average, with fees rising about six per cent in the last year. Families who have taken a pay cut over the past few months could be forced to give up child care altogether, and that would force them out of the workforce. Women are being left out and left behind by the federal government during this economic downturn, and this budget is doing nothing to address the significant job losses in industries dominated by women. Last night in the budget we saw nothing new on fixing the gender pay gap, super balances, domestic and family violence services or social housing. One trillion dollars of debt, a track record of no delivery and no plan for the future—that is the legacy of this Treasurer's COVID-19 budget. As Greg so eloquently put it, 'A typical, no-idea, no-plan Liberal budget.'