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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Labor MPs label new hiring scheme ‘JobTaker’

Shortland MP Pat Conroy has joined the chorus of voices criticising the Australian Government’s much-hyped hiring credit scheme JobMaker.

In fact, he along with Labor Party Deputy Leader Richard Marles, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Tony Burke labelled the initiative “JobTaker”.

New Treasury documents obtained under Freedom of Information by the ABC reveal that instead of an incentive to hire workers, the proposal could be an inducement to fire them.

According to the papers, the government’s scheme means an employer could sack a full-time employee, older than 35, to get more hours out of multiple part-time workers at no extra cost. 

“This is a disgrace,” Mr Conroy said.

“In just a few weeks when the Morrison government removes both JobKeeper and JobSeeker, JobMaker will be their main support left in place.

“Instead of incentivising businesses to hire new employees, this program could instead be used to fire employees.

“Casualisation of the workforce is already a huge problem in this country and JobMaker could make it worse.

“We’ve known for months that JobMaker deliberately excludes 928,000 Australians aged over 35 who are looking for work.

“Now, we also know it can be used as a tool to sack workers.”

Mr Marles also weighed in on the subject.

“A colour-coded spreadsheet, in the Treasury documents, illustrated how an employer could sack an experienced full-time worker earning $75,000 and replace them with three part-time staff on wages between $27,500 and $30,000, in order to gain an extra 22 hours of labour a week,” the Corio MP said.

“Having deliberately excluded almost a million Australians aged over 35 from the hiring credit, these workers haven’t just been left out, they’ve been singled out and sacrificed.

“This tells you everything you need to know about the Australian Government.”

Mr Chalmers added the scheme flew in the face of the “we’re all in this together” mantra.

“JobTaker is yet another cruel example of marketing and spin, over substance and delivery,” the Rankin MP said.

“First, Josh Frydenberg made a $60 billion budget blunder with JobKeeper.

“He was then sprung repeatedly boasting these hiring credits would support 450,000 jobs – when Treasury expects that 90 per cent of them would have occurred without the subsidy.

“Now, weeks before JobKeeper is cut to sectors that are still struggling – and with two million Australians searching for work or more hours – there’s evidence that the Treasurer ignored warnings that workers could be sacked as a result of a scheme that was meant to create jobs.”

Mr Burke said it was disappointing the Morrison government had abandoned older workers.

“Instead of a proper plan to create decent jobs and get record low wages growth moving, they want to cut take-home pay and workers’ superannuation,” the Watson MP said. 

“Only Labor is on the side of all Australian workers – fighting COVID-19, while also fighting to build an economy that is stronger and fairer after the pandemic, than it was before.”