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Greens to amend wage subsidy to cover extra 1M casuals

By excluding casuals engaged for less than 12 months, Scott Morrison’s flat wage subsidy will fail to keep Australians employed, and still represents an inferior model to an 80% of wages model proposed by the Greens, Greens Leader Adam Bandt said today.

Mr Bandt said that the 12 month restriction showed little understanding of the nature of work in already hard-hit fields like hospitality, retail and tourism, and meant the policy would leave behind almost a million casual workers.

Further, by opting for a flat rate regardless of the employee’s take home income, the subsidy will not encourage employers to keep many of their workers on. 

“There are up to a million casual workers who have been employed for less than twelve months and they won’t get a cent from this package,” said Mr Bandt.

“The government made a mistake by refusing to accept the Greens’ amendments to include wage and job guarantees in their stimulus legislation.

“Last week, by giving a welcome raise to Newstart but failing to also accept Greens amendments for a jobs and wages guarantee, the government sent a clear message to employers that their staff were best off in the dole queue. Now the government is trying to unscramble the egg, but it may be too little, too late.

“I’m pleased the government has now accepted the Greens were right and is moving on jobs and wages guarantees, but Scott Morrison still hasn’t fixed the problem and this scheme will need to be amended.

“By restricting the payment to long term casual workers, the scheme fails to reflect the realities of modern working life.

“Bartenders, tour guides and even teachers are now expected to move through several workplaces and are just as important to the success of a workplace, whether they’ve been there two months or two years. 

“The arts, hospitality and tourism sectors have high levels of seasonal employment and this package has nothing for them.

“Festivals often run yearly, for example, and many people waiting to be reengaged over coming months will be left behind by this scheme.

“To start reversing the massive job losses we’re seeing, the wage guarantee must be at least 80% of wages, it must reflect the challenges of the modern workforce and must give the many casual-reliant businesses a fighting chance. 

“We should head back to parliament as soon as possible so we can attempt to salvage this package.”

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