The Hunter’s Federal MPs have thrown their support behind a Labor Party campaign calling for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to extend JobKeeper payments until the end of the year.
Shortland MP Pat Conroy, Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon, Paterson MP Meryl Swanson and Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon backed a website set up by the Labor Party, which allows visitors to search their postcode to see how many businesses in their area could be forced to close and how many local jobs could be lost.
According to Labor, up to 17,525 businesses in the Hunter Region may be forced to close their doors if the payments end in September.
That means about 66,500 local workers could be forced into unemployment.
“The economy is unlikely to recover by the end of year, and the government needs to be flexible while we are in such a deep recession,” Shortland MP Pat Conroy told the Newcastle Weekly.
“The economy is sluggish, we are in the middle of a recession, to end JobKeeper is premature and will make the economic situation worse,” he said.
According to the figures, $100 million could be lost from the local economy every fortnight.
“There’s no doubt responding to the recession has meant a lot of government money has been spent, but that’s far better than the alternative, which is an economic depression worse than 1930,” Mr Conroy said.
“I talk to people who need JobKeeper every week, I was talking to a dry cleaner who doesn’t qualify, however, a lot of their clients do, and they were worried if JobKeeper ends, they could see a fall in customers.”
The Labor team, however, concedes changes must be made to the payments to make sure the initiative is sustainable.
“Certainly, to extend JobKeeper, revisions need to be made,” Mr Conroy said.
“For example, it’s too generous to people earning less than $750 a week and it needs to work better, because it needs to continue until the economy is much stronger than it is now.”
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