Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt.
Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt.

Claims 54,000 CQ workers worse off under JobKeeper changes

CHANGES to JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments prompted Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt to warn today that up to 54,000 Central Queenslanders could end up in trouble.

But Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry replied that the federal programs were always a temporary measure and that given an apparent "jobs boom" in Central Queensland, people needing more money should find work instead of relying on the government.

Last week, the coronavirus supplement to those on JobSeeker dropped from $550 to $250, and from today, employers will receive different amounts of money for JobKeeper payments depending on how many hours an employee worked in the four weeks before March 1 or the four weeks before July 1 this year.

Working 80 hours or more in one of those periods qualifies a business to receive $1200 a fortnight to pay a worker; fewer hours qualify it for $750.

Mr Watt's arithmetic comes from Treasury data about the number of processed JobKeeper applications for Capricornia businesses in any fortnight of April, May, and June.

"Today, millions of dollars will start to be ripped out of the Central Queensland economy, thanks to cuts to the JobKeeper program," he said.

"Today's cuts and changes will see some local businesses and workers lose access completely, while others will have their payments slashed by between $300 and $750 per fortnight.

"Treasury data shows that more than 25,500 CQ workers could be worse off under the Morrison Government cuts to JobKeeper."

Mr Watt said 29,000 Central Queenslanders lost $300 a fortnight because of the JobSeeker supplement reductions.

"The government has the power to reverse these cuts and it should do so immediately," he said.

"Prematurely winding back support will cost jobs and hurt the local economy."

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.

Ms Landry responded to the "fly-in, fly-out senator", saying that at the moment, "employers are crying out for workers".

"If you're struggling, your income's not high enough, go out and find a job," she said.

"It might not be in the field that you want at this time, but until things improve, there's a lot of jobs going out there.

"It's not your forever job."

Ms Landry agreed that "some people will be affected obviously" from the JobKeeper reduction, but advised them to "have an adventure: go and pick some fruit".

"I'll tell you what, we're going to have a crisis at the end of the year if we don't get people out helping the farmers because people aren't going out there," she said.

"Young Australians just don't want to do that work."

JobKeeper payments will decrease again from January 4 next year, and the JobKeeper program will end on March 28, 2021.