17 March 2021
Some 172,000 Queensland workers are expected to lose JobKeeper at the end of this month. That's $83 million in support that's going to be ripped away from the Queensland economy. So yesterday in question time I asked on behalf of my workers in Lilley—5,500 of whom are still reliant on JobKeeper, amounting to $3 million in support—what would happen to them when JobKeeper was ripped away. The Treasurer's answer was that the market would look after them now. Like a nurturing mother, the market was going to sweep in and look after us and I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about it, because it would all be sorted out. Can't understand maths—
Mr Ted O'Brien interjecting—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Llew O'Brien ): The member for Fairfax will leave the chamber quietly.
Yes, I'll take that interjection. The member for Moncrieff said, 'Shame on the member for Dunkley for her question,' and then the Prime Minister agreed with the member for Dunkley. So learn your lesson. Honestly!
When the Treasurer answered yesterday that the market would look after our workers, it was code for 'they're going to get the sack'. That was what the code was. When the Treasurer said the market would look after them, he meant, 'You'll probably get the sack, but I'm not going to be honest enough to tell you that directly.' The reason we know that is that yesterday, on the same day, locally on Facebook on the north side of Brisbane, an ad was posted by Services Australia. The ad said, 'JobKeeper is ending, but we can help you sign up for JobSeeker.' How supportive! There's that nurturing support coming from the government: 'You're off to JobSeeker.' It isn't good enough! How dare you mutter and shrug your shoulders and scoff and talk to yourself—with all your friends—about how disgraceful it is for us to hold you to account? The job of opposition is actually to hold you to account. I'm sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable that you're receiving a little bit of scrutiny for all of the incompetence that has been going on in your government, but that is our job and that is what Australians want us to do, and I'm very pleased to be back in this place to do it.
I think, after seven years, the LNP has lost sight of what is basic, core bread-and-butter business for a government, which is to make sure that their people, the people who elect them to office, have a roof over their heads and food on the table and can feed their kids at the end of the day. That is what this plan—ripping away JobKeeper before the vaccine rollout is completed—fails to do. It fails to do the very core business that they were entrusted to complete. It's an absolute outrage that they sit there and do not acknowledge that that is what their plan does. The Treasurer, in fact, seems to expect some kind of gratitude from the rest of us who have been elected to represent our people that he's leaving it to the market to look after.
Speaking of the Treasurer, I've contacted the Treasurer requesting a meeting to discuss how this government is going to better support north-side jobs and I'm still waiting for a response. I suspect I may wait forever. I particularly want to speak to the Treasurer about our aviation industry, because I represent 6,600 aviation workers on the north side of Lilley, mostly based at Brisbane Airport. Their livelihoods have been decimated by this government's failure to provide them with the specific, targeted support spoken of by the speaker before me for aviation workers. I wrote to the PM and the Deputy PM asking for specific support for aviation workers and their families back in March 2020. I met with the DPM about it. Their response was that they've already done enough. Let's reflect on what 'enough' looks like on the ground. In May 5,500 dnata workers were told that they were ineligible for JobKeeper because they were employed by a foreign owned company, despite many of them working for 20 years in the same job on the same shift with nothing changing except the name at the top of the masthead and on a letterhead somewhere far from their workplace. Not long after that, Virgin collapsed, putting 10,000 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs at risk. At the start of August, Virgin confirmed that it would cut 3,000 jobs, one-third of its workforce, in order to stay afloat. Later in August, Qantas announced that it was outsourcing 2,500 baggage handlers. Let's take a moment to recognise that: Qantas no longer has baggage handlers in Australia. They've outsourced those jobs, taking secure, permanent, good employment away from Australian workers to create new insecure casual jobs to save money.
On the back of this devastation in my community, you'll have to excuse me for not accepting the Treasurer's response: 'The free market is going to take care of north-side workers when JobKeeper is axed in 11 days.' They've racked up over a trillion dollars in debt but can't spare $3 million to keep north-side workers afloat.