Local businesses suffer under JobSeeker

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto fears businesses could go to the wall or scale back significantly without a significant reduction in the JobSeeker payment that is deterring people from participating in the workforce.

BUSINESSSES across North Queensland are struggling to find staff and face potential closure while the Federal Government’s JobSeeker payment exists in its current form, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

Mr Dametto said his office had been inundated with calls from business owners who could not find staff and were facing “tough financial decisions” as a result.

“I’ve had business owners contact me at their wits’ end because no-one wants to work and as a result, their business will have to downsize or reduce hours to cope,” he said.

“They all point to JobSeeker. It’s removing the motivation for people to find a job when there’s so much work going in the North. It’s not just our farmers who can’t find workers, it’s small businesses, suppliers and service providers.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that JobSeeker would reduce from $815 a fortnight to $715 a fortnight from next month.

The coronavirus supplement that is added on top of JobSeeker will also fall from $250 to $150 a fortnight from next year and will be extended until the end of March 2021.

“I understand JobSeeker replaced the old Newstart Allowance, and as Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is right to be reducing these payments. But this small cut won’t help businesses in virus-free North Queensland until the coronavirus supplement is removed and JobSeeker payments are significantly reduced,” Mr Dametto said.

“The government can keep the current JobSeeker rate in areas where it’s still needed, but not in places where there’s an abundance of work. I acknowledge that there are people who have a genuine need to be on JobSeeker, such as transitioning between jobs or upskilling, but at the same time it is deterring many others from participating in the workforce.”

Mr Dametto said the current JobSeeker rate and the extension of the coronavirus supplement, would just “add more woe to businesses already fighting to keep afloat”.

“Kennedy MP Bob Katter has led the charge on this issue by highlighting that an estimated 15,000 farm jobs will soon be available in the Cairns hinterland region during peak fruit picking season, and yet we’ve got 20,000 people still receiving welfare,” Mr Dametto said.

“We need a dramatic change in direction from the Federal Government before we see local businesses shut up shop entirely.”

Nick Dametto MP