The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has hit out at Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his opening address of the year at the National Press Club yesterday (Monday), saying it will do nothing to alleviate the stress felt by over two million underemployed and unemployed Australians.
According to the peak union body, the address comes at a time where the increased JobSeeker benefit is being reduced by $100 a fortnight until it reaches its pre-pandemic, “unliveable” rate of $40 per day.
JobKeeper – which the ACTU says is another hard-earned and vital wage subsidy scheme to come out of the pandemic – is set to end in March.
Cutting key programs will drive down domestic spending
Modelling released by professional services company Deloitte last week predicted that it would take up to five years for Australia’s wage growth to reach 2 percent.
“The Prime Minister is insisting that Australians need to reach into their pockets and spend to save our economy. But at the same time he is cutting JobKeeper and JobSeeker; moves which will compound almost eight years of record-breaking low wage growth and drive down vital domestic spending,” the union body said in a response to Morrison’s address.
Australia’s National Press Club is a popular forum for senior national figures – political and otherwise – to put forward key policy issues and float ideas of national importance.
The end of the JobKeeper program will see an unknown number of working people lose jobs and hours with no additional government support, the ACTU stated.
Real possibility that jobs will be lost without JobKeeper
“There is a very real possibility that employers will not be able to retain staff without the JobKeeper scheme, leaving thousands of Australians unemployed or without enough hours to sustain themselves and their families,” said ACTU President, Michele O’Neil.
“The Prime Minister is demonstrating that he has no understanding of the uncertainty facing millions of Australians. The economy has not recovered and the burden is being shouldered by working Australians.”
O’Neil added: “It’s very simple; Australians can’t spend money that they don’t have. The more money is in working peoples’ pockets, the better off our economy will be.”