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Katina Curtis, AAP Senior Political Writer
(Australian Associated Press)
The Morrison government has conceded some workers now getting wage subsidies will be pushed into unemployment when the JobKeeper scheme ends.
And Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter says it would be wrong to think everything could shift back to a pre-pandemic state at the end of September.
“Some of the jobs that are being supported through that wage subsidy are not going to be sustainable in the long run,” he told the Council for Economic Development of Australia’s online State of the Nation conference on Tuesday.
“There will be a shift between JobKeeper and JobSeeker at some point and to some degree.
“The idea that things will return seamlessly to the way they were six months after JobKeeper commenced is just a false apprehension and we have to plan ourselves and work ourselves out of this, not just hope for the best.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told Labor MPs meeting in Canberra on Tuesday the government faced difficulty with both its rollout and rollback of payments.
“The number of people who are left behind will massively increase when JobKeeper is cut off,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament that in any recession people would lose work and that was a tragedy for them.
“If the Leader of the Opposition wants to sell the Australian people that in a recession there is no hardship, then he is a fool,” he said during Question Time.
There are now 1.6 million people on the JobSeeker unemployment benefits – about double the number before the crisis – and another three million receiving JobKeeper payments through their employer.
JobKeeper is legislated until September but is being reviewed, with the outcome to be announced on July 23.
It will end on July 20 for the childcare sector, which the government has moved on to a separate support plan.
There was a small improvement in the number of jobs over May, but overall there are still 7.5 per cent fewer positions than in mid-March, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday showed.
Women have been the hardest hit, with eight per cent of their jobs disappearing compared with 6.3 per cent for men.
They also make up half of JobKeeper recipients despite comprising less than half the workforce.
Frontbencher Sussan Ley said the wage subsidy had been a lifeline for women.
But she described it as a “handout”, in a change of language from the government’s message about support.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said there were clearly big sections of the economy that would still be more or less in stasis when September arrived.
She warned workers wouldn’t stand for permanent pay cuts as the Australian economy recovered from the coronavirus.