The extra $125 million announced by the federal government today won’t be enough to save thousands of jobs in the arts and entertainment sector when JobKeeper ends this weekend, says the union for Australia’s arts and entertainment workers.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance says the package is too little and too late and of no comfort to the many thousands of arts workers who were abandoned by the government last year because they weren’t eligible for JobKeeper.
Arts Minister Paul Fletcher promised between $4 and $10 billion in COVID-related support for the sector in May last year, but the government’s own figures reveal this support totaled just over $1 billion.
“Although any support is welcome, this is a weak package,” said MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy.
“Today’s announcement is effectively an admission of failure by Minister Fletcher.
“Having left half the entertainment industry workforce ineligible for JobKeeper, Minister Fletcher is still more than $3 billion short in his support for our industry.
“Not only has the funding provided to date been inadequate, but it is poorly targeted with the criteria favouring large organisations and ignoring small and independent cultural organisations and artists.
“The Minister obviously subscribes to the theory that money will trickle down to the workers, but we are yet to see any convincing evidence of that.
“His record to date in supporting the sector has been abysmal.
“Earlier this week, Treasury revealed that more than one-in-five arts and recreation workers were still depending on JobKeeper at the end of January – the most of any sector in the economy.
“When the scheme finishes this weekend, those workers are staring at a bleak future.
“We are deeply concerned that based on past experience it will be several months before any of this money reaches arts organisations and in the meantime we face the prosect of companies going under and a plethora of layoffs when JobKeeper finishes.
“Mr Fletcher’s announcement today will be of no comfort to those workers impacted.”