The tourism industry has stepped up its lobbying for the federal government to extend JobKeeper beyond March.
Tourism and Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond claims the industry will be decimated by September if support is not forthcoming:
“The way the situation exists for the industry now is that since 2019, when we had 1.1 million permanent full-time positions in the industry, we lost 506,000 of those positions last year,” Ms Osmond said on Monday.
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“If JobKeeper doesn’t extend past March, we will lose another 318,000 full-time positions by September and the industry will be less than a third of its normal size… We won’t have a tourism industry.”
As we keep saying, JobKeeper has been systemically rorted by Australian businesses, who have manipulated their turnover to meet the eligibility rules. This type of rorting will only continue if JobKeeper is extended to the tourism industry beyond March.
Instead of picking sector-specific winners (or losers), a better policy would be to permanently lift JobSeeker from its poverty level of $40 a day to the Aged Pension Level ($61.50 a day). This way, taxpayer dollars would go where they are truly needed and displaced workers, regardless of industry, would receive adequate income support.
Remember, the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement is scheduled to expire on 31 March, meaning millions of Aussies will be thrown back into poverty when the rate reverts to its pre-COVID poverty level of $40 a day:
The impacts of COVID-19 could linger for years. This means the tourism industry (and others) will need to adjust to the new “COVID normal” and not all businesses will remain viable. Extending JobKeeper will merely delay the inevitable and keep unviable businesses alive on taxpayer life support.
Policy makers should facilitate creative destruction in these industries by providing income support to displaced workers, rather than keeping zombie firms afloat. Let the cards fall where they may.
Lifting JobSeeker in line with the Aged Pension achieves these aims and is far more equitable and targeted than extending JobKeeper to specific industries.