JOB ANGST: There are calls for the government to expand the eligibility of their JobKeeper program to include thousands of Central Queensland workers.
JOB ANGST: There are calls for the government to expand the eligibility of their JobKeeper program to include thousands of Central Queensland workers.

Call to support 11,200 CQ casual workers in crisis

MORE than 11,000 Central Queensland casual workers are expected to miss out on increased support when the Australian parliament reconvenes in Canberra on Wednesday to pass the $130 billion JobKeeper support package for workers.

Given the package would only be available for casual workers who had been employed for the same role for 12 months, Queensland Senator Murray Watt has led calls for a broadening of the Jobkeeper program to ensure 11,200 CQ casual workers didn't miss out on the fortnightly $1,500 payments.

So far, Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has resisted pleas from unions and Labor saying their proposed definition was too broad and a line had to be drawn somewhere on who would miss out.

He said the casual workers ineligible for JobKeeper payments would receive adequate support through the JobSeeker payment, formerly known as the Newstart payment, which has been doubled to about $1100 a fortnight in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Senator Watt said the number of CQ short term casual workers was concerning and he implored the Morrison Government to give them more consideration.

"Labor has welcomed the wage subsidy as a step in the right direction, but there is concern that the current plan does not apply to casual ­employees unless they have been employed at the same company for a year or more," Senator Watt said.

According to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, he said there were 215,800 people who had recently started new jobs Queensland-wide.

NEW CASUALS: NEW CASUALS: The Australian Bureau of Statistics data compares the distribution of casual workers employed for less than 12 months around the country.
NEW CASUALS: NEW CASUALS: The Australian Bureau of Statistics data compares the distribution of casual workers employed for less than 12 months around the country.

"My office, and many others have been inundated by calls and letters from Queenslanders confused by the criteria, and desperate for assistance," he said.

"There are still many people slipping through the cracks of JobKeeper eligibility and they are crying out for clarity and more help.

"Some, including some casuals with a working partner and New Zealand citizens who have established a life in Australia, may not qualify for other assistance."

Labor Senator Murray Watt. Picture Kym Smith
Labor Senator Murray Watt. Picture Kym Smith

Senator Watt said not only did these numbers represent families that would miss out on support, they also represented businesses that would be forced into losing valuable staff members if they couldn't turn a profit in these difficult times.

"The Morrison Government's willingness to adopt Labor's suggestion of a wage subsidy for Australians indicates Labor's approach is the right way to go, and we hope they will also consider this recommendation in the same spirit of bipartisanship," he said.

"Now is the time for everyone to work together to achieve the best outcome for all Australians. This is not the time for half measures.

"Labor hopes that Capricornia MP Michelle Landry stands up for the region's casuals, when we return to parliament this week."

Ms Landry responded to Mr Watt's comments saying there was financial support in place for CQ's casuals

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.

"Casuals who will be eligible for JobKeeper payment are those that have been employed on a regular and a systemic basis for a 12 month period," Ms Landry said.

"This definition is based on the definition that is used in the Fair Work Act and is a definition that shows a pattern of employment over a period of time.

"Casuals of less than 12 month are supported through the $550 coronavirus supplement, which doubles the rate income support for many Australians. It means those on the JobSeeker payment could receive up to $1100 a fortnight."

Ms Landry reaffirmed her government's support for Australians throughout the coronavirus crisis by providing comprehensive financial assistance for individuals, households and businesses.

"The $130 billion JobKeeper payment will help to keep business in business and Australians in a job," she said.

"Around 6 million workers will receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) through their employer."

 

Casuals employed less than a year

• Central Queensland - 11,200

• Wide Bay - 8300

• Townsville - 18,400

• Toowoomba - 3400

• Sunshine Coast - 17,600

• Outback - 2,300

• Mackay Isaac Whitsunday - 5200

• Gold Coast - 28,900

• Darling Downs - Maranoa - 3800

• Cairns - 14,100

• Moreton Bay - South - 6100

• Moreton Bay - North - 4500

• Logan Beaudesert - 14,600

• Ipswich - 17,300

• Brisbane inner city - 13,700

• Brisbane west - 7500

• Brisbane south - 19,200

• Brisbane north - 11,000

• Brisbane east - 13,300



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