Workers are refusing to take jobs thanks to JobSeeker handouts which make it more lucrative to stay unemployed, business owners have claimed.
JobSeeker payments, formerly known as the Newstart allowance, were doubled from $275-a-week to $550-a-week during the coronavirus pandemic.
The move has put more cash in the pockets of casual workers, making them reluctant to look for work now businesses have reopened, industry insiders say.
People are seen wearing face masks in a long queue outside the Centrelink office in Southport on the Gold Coast on March 23
The move has put more cash in casual workers pockets, making them reluctant to return to work, industry insiders say (pictured, tradesmen head to work in Sydney on June 29)
Robert Hall-Bowman, from the Queensland Chamber of Commerce, told The Courier Mail one worker admitted they would not be returning to work until September – when the coronavirus supplement is due to be cutback.
‘There’s been examples we have been given where it’s difficult to find staff to come back, with particularly the casual work force.’
Eddy Nader, who runs four BP service stations in Sydney, said he had been struggling to fill three positions because workers were better off on JobSeeker.
‘People are just taking the mickey out of the scheme. It’s become a farce,’ he told The Australian.
The JobKeeper program – which pays $1,500 a fortnight to those left temporarily unemployed by forced business closures – has also created problems for businesses.
New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show one in five people on JobKeeper has been receiving more money through the wage subsidy than they would normally earn.
Restaurant and Catering Association boss Wes Lambert said some business owners claim staff were choosing to go JobSeeker instead of returning to work.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison raised similar concerns during a press conference on Monday.
Business owners claim staff were choosing to go JobSeeker instead of returning to work (pictured, a reopened Melbourne cafe on June 21)
‘What we have to be worried about now is that we can’t allow the JobSeeker payment to become an impediment to people going out and doing work, getting extra shifts.
‘And we are getting a lot of anecdotal feedback from small businesses, even large businesses where some of them are finding it hard to get people to come and take the shifts because they’re on these higher levels of payment.’
Mr Morrison said the government had to be careful when supporting people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and have little chance of getting another temporary job.
‘And so we’ve just got to make sure that we continue to provide what is a reasonable level of support in the middle of the worst recession we’ve had since the Great Depression,’ he said.
‘But at the same time, we can’t let the help get in the way that we’re giving to people. And so these aren’t easy decisions. They’re very complex.’
JobSeeker payments were doubled from $275-a-week to $550-a-week amid the coronavirus pandemic (pictured, people queue for access to a Centrelink Service Centre in Sydney)
Mr Morrison is also concerned the government is ‘burning through’ almost $11billion a month on JobKeeper wage subsidies.
He is looking to redirect support towards industries hardest hit by coronavirus and withdraw it from companies quicker to recover.
‘There’s still a lot of work to do there and that’s what we’re focused on,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
‘There are many moving parts in this, this is not a simple issue.’
The prime minister will receive a Treasury report on the coronavirus payments on Monday evening but will wait another month before making any changes.
Labor has accused the prime minister of sitting on the Treasury report until after the upcoming by-election in Eden-Monaro.
The coronavirus pandemic left many businesses forced to shut their doors, leaving thousands out of work (pictured, queues outside Centrelink on March 23)
A shut down café for sale in Mollymook on the NSW south coast (pictured on April 7) after businesses across the country were hit by COVID-19 restrictions
It has called on him to end the ‘chaos and confusion’ before voters go to the polls on Saturday.
Mr Morrison has promised there will be a next phase of economic support, but says a series of complex decisions need to be made.
There are growing calls to expand access to the pandemic payments and sustain them beyond September.
The Grattan Institute wants JobSeeker permanently increased by at least $100 a week, provided to more people and tied to wages.
The think-tank also wants JobKeeper extended into next year and expanded to ineligible arts, university and tourism workers.
The institute has warned against withdrawing fiscal support too soon, echoing an early caution from the International Monetary Fund.
Instead, it has recommended the federal government spend between $70billion and $90billion on extra economic stimulus measures, including cash cheques sent directly to households.
Scott Morrison (pictured on Monday) has claimed unemployed Australians are refusing to work because JobSeeker’s $550-a-week benefits are too high
Mr Morrison is also concerned the government is ‘burning through’ almost $11billion a month on JobKeeper wage subsidies (pictured, queues outside a Melbourne Centrelink)
Grattan also encouraged the government to introduce a higher, simpler, means-tested childcare subsidy that would cover 95 per cent of costs for low-income families.
A separate report by analytics firms illion and AlphaBeta has found low income earners have carried the economy through the crisis.
The data showed people earning less than $65,000 a year kept the economy propped up through discretionary and essential spending.
By contrast, the economic advisory group found high income earners had kept their wallets sealed since the start of March.
A new Australian Bureau of Statistics survey shows Australians are slowly getting back to work as coronavirus lockdowns ease.
Sixty one per cent of Australian adults had a job working paid hours in June, the highest rate since early March.
Scott Morrison warns Australia is ‘addicted’ to handouts and rules out extending the $20BILLION-per-month JobKeeper scheme
The coronavirus JobKeeper scheme will come to an end within months, as Scott Morrison warned against the country becoming ‘addicted’ to state handouts.
In a heated exchange with Labor leader Anthony Albanese in parliament, the prime minister said the emergency measures could not stay in place forever.
The $130billion wage subsidy scheme is costing taxpayers $20billion every month, providing $1,500-a-fortnight to workers who might otherwise be laid off.
Mr Morrison ruled out extending JobKeeper passed the current September 27 end date, saying he looked forward to a day when the scheme could be shut down.
‘We don’t want an Australian economy that’s propped up by subsidies,’ he said in a press conference when asked about a possible extension.
Expanding on the issue later in parliament, he said: ‘We cannot have an economy addicted to the measures we have in place.
‘They will break them eventually and that is a day we look forward to.’
Senior politicians have admitted there was ‘no way’ Australia can afford to extend the scheme
People are seen queuing outside a Centrelink office on April 20 in Melbourne (pictured) during the COVID-19 crisis