Thursday 2nd of July 2020

after the pandemic...


The federal government was criticised for not lifting Newstart before the economy-wrecking coronavirus, but it is now facing outrage for planning to revert to the basic payment after the pandemic passes.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Tuesday a restructured social security system would provide “decency and fairness” going forward, but the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) believes that cannot be achieved by reverting to people trying to survive on $40 a day.

The government’s JobSeeker payments, which kicked in on March 20, doubled the Newstart base allowance from $556 to $1115 a fortnight.

Boosted payments go to people from 22 to those eligible for the aged pension age, with about 50 per cent of those who had been on Newstart aged 45 or older.

The pandemic has caused a spike in unemployment for young people in the hospitality industry, but there are also fears many older people put out of work may find it harder to return to employment.

Before the pandemic, the ACOSS campaign Raise the Rate had been attracting widespread support for changes to Newstart, which unions and welfare groups had long maintained was inadequate and burdened by bureaucratic hurdles.

ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie now wants the pandemic extra payments to stay in place until the social security system is “fixed” and says recent surveys show Australians back the move.


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we need slaves...

The Federal Government's $130-billion JobKeeper package is supposed to tie employers and workers together through the coronavirus economic storm.

Key points:

  • More than 730,000 businesses have registered for JobKeeper payments for workers
  • A survey conducted by the United Workers Union suggests 70 per cent of hospitality workers are either ineligible for JobKeeper or their employer has not applied for the wage relief
  • A Wollongong student said his employer told him he would not be rehired unless he agreed to more hours than he usually worked

But a casual worker and his employer say the scheme is tearing them apart.

"It's like [my boss is] not even thinking about my livelihood," said Tom Nielsen, a casual kitchenhand at a Wollongong restaurant who was stood down in March.

He is among almost 1 million Australians who have lost their jobs since the COVID-19 shutdown began, and exactly the kind of worker the JobKeeper program is designed to support.

Yet even though his employer has successfully joined the scheme, the restaurant initially refused to sign Mr Nielsen up for the $1,500 per fortnight payment last month unless he increased his hours of work.

"I couldn't do that because I'm a university student and I could only commit to three nights a week," he said.

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a couple of views...


Quite funny, but no challenge to the bullshit we are being fed...:



This is more to the point:




frying frydenberg on climate...

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s statement to parliament on the “sobering” economic impact of COVID-19 – given in place of the postponed federal budget – was a fizzer in which he passed over key figures and recycled the same talking points used last week. Its most interesting feature was an unfortunate coughing fit he suffered in the middle of it. In the recovery from the pandemic, said Frydenberg, the Coalition would be guided by its old values and principles: “encouraging personal responsibility, maximising personal choice, rewarding effort and risk taking, whilst ensuring a safety net which is underpinned by a sense of decency and fairness. Unleashing the power of dynamic, innovative and open markets must be central to the recovery, with the private sector leading job creation, not government.” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said much the same thing yesterday. “The pandemic has shown that Labor’s values of fairness, security and the power of government to change lives were the right values in a crisis,” Albanese said. “They are also the right values for the recovery.” This means that federal politics is reverting to blue-versus-red tribalism, and the gloves will soon come off.

A key difference of opinion is over the design of the JobKeeper program – the single largest component of the government’s fiscal stimulus at $130 billion – and the treasurer is copping it from all sides. From his own side, there are reported concerns about the staggering cost, as well as compliance, with backbenchers raising questions about it in this morning’s joint Coalition party-room meeting. Liberal backbencher Jason Falinski has called for the payment to be axed “as soon as possible” – perhaps once kids get back to school. Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers used his reply to Frydenberg’s statement to castigate the government about estimates that JobKeeper could end up under budget by roughly $20 billion, describing it as a “stunning admission of failure”, adding, “This is not a saving to be celebrated”. During question time, the Opposition asked what year unemployment would get back to pre-coronavirus levels, or when gross debt would peak. The PM and treasurer dead-batted both of them. And when Labor’s Stephen Jones asked Frydenberg how many people were getting more than their normal wage under JobKeeper, Frydenberg took it on notice, but defended the flat $1500 per fortnight payment: “It was a very Australian way to do it – we didn’t want to see a situation where if you earned more, that you would get a greater payment.”

Returning to politics as usual might be a good thing. The stakes are high and rising as Australia heads towards its biggest-ever budget deficit, record debt and a level of unemployment not seen for a generation or more. As The New Daily commentator Michael Pascoe points out, the fresh joblessness figures we get this week will be artificially low because of JobKeeper spending, and the real level is probably comparable with that in the US. On top of that, a deteriorating relationship with our biggest trading partner, China, which today banned imports from four Australian red-meat abattoirs, after yesterday announcing an 80 per cent tariff on barley. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has denied China’s trade moves are connected to Australia’s push for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, but there does appear to be a real possibility of a full-blown trade war if the relationship is mismanaged. 

We need a parliamentary opposition that is firing. Anthony Albanese was upbeat on RN Breakfast this morning, following up on his fifth “vision statement” yesterday. Both major parties pay lip service to building back better, but so far only Labor has begun to paint a picture: a national housing stimulus planfull employment, decentralisation via high-speed rail and trains built here using “green” Australian steel, a clean energy revolution. That’s the kind of vision that can lift a country out of a recession. 

As former Age journalist Tom Arup tweeted this afternoon, quickly threading together all the organisations supporting a connection between the economic recovery and sustainability/climate, it’s the kind of vision that pretty much the entire world is calling for, including the World Bank and the IMF, the International Labour Organization and the International Energy Agency, major corporations and investors, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, mayors of major cities… the list goes on. 


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