Australia should look to the UK’s 80% wage subsidy as a model for getting workers through the COVID-19 crisis, Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt said today, warning that the Morrison Government’s current approach was failing and that Parliament may need to be recalled to fix it.
This call comes following Scott Morrison’s refusal to back the Greens push in Parliament on Monday for a jobs and wages guarantee, and puts the Australian Greens in unison with a growing number of business and workers groups, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
The Greens have also written to the National Cabinet urging a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures as well as rent and mortgage holidays, after the NSW and Tasmanian Parliaments over the last 2 days passed Greens amendments to protect renters.
“Scott Morrison’s trickle-down stimulus is failing to keep people in work because he refused to make jobs and wages guarantees part of his multi-billion dollar support package,” said Mr Bandt.
“The Greens moved in Parliament on Monday for jobs and wages guarantees but it was voted down.
“It is time for Scott Morrison to admit he made a mistake and implement a UK-style jobs and wages guarantees to protect 80% of people’s income. If he needs to recall Parliament, perhaps online, then so be it.
“We can’t just accept that Australia’s workers just have to join the queue for Centrelink until this is all over. Every job that we lose now we need to rebuild in future, so it’s vital that we keep people on the books through this lockdown.”
“Scott Morrison’s offering is a weak approach that like so many other Liberal policies, heavily favours people on higher incomes, because low-paid workers are less likely to get government support. If a worker earns less than the tax free threshold of $18,000, the employer gets no financial benefit, so those workers won’t be kept on.
“Adopting the UK model would result in employers receiving five times more for the average working Australian than the government’s current policy, and they’ll get it now, not in five months’ time.
“The ACTU has rightly pointed to the UK’s model as a far superior scheme, and the Greens back them in all the way.
“We’re also deeply concerned about reports of half measures around keeping people in housing. As of this morning, we’ve heard from tens of thousands of people who fear they will be kicked onto the streets.
“We need rent and mortgage holidays and a ban on evictions right now to ensure that people can keep a roof over their heads.
“We’re in a pandemic, and this is not the time for half measures.”