Subsidy protections in parliament battle

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Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Political hurdles remain in the way of the Morrison government’s hiring credit scheme for young unemployed Australians.

A parliamentary battle looms on attempts to cement safeguards in the plan.

The Senate – through Labor, the Greens, One Nation, Centre Alliance and independent Rex Patrick – voted to protect older workers from being sacked so bosses could benefit from hiring young employees.

But the government on Wednesday used its lower house numbers to reject the changes, sending the bill back to the Senate.

Labor used Question Time to focus on older unemployed workers locked out of the JobMaker subsidy scheme.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there other supports were already available for older workers.

He also insisted workers would be protected through the $4 billion plan.

“This leader of the opposition is so desperate, leading a party so divided, that he will use the fears and concerns of Australians in a pandemic to butter up support on his own backbench,” he said.

If the Senate decides to stick by the amendments, the bill could pinball back and forth between the chambers until a deal is stuck.

Under the changes, companies found to have sacked a worker in order to get the payment would be disqualified, and transparent reporting requirements would be legislated.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese accused the government of not being “fair dinkum” about creating jobs.

“If this legislation is seriously about additional employment rather than about replacing existing workers, they have got to support this amendment,” he told parliament.

The hiring credit legislation does not provide fine detail on the scheme, instead giving Treasurer Josh Frydenberg power to make up the rules.

Employers that take on jobless people aged under 30 will receive $200 a week, while those who hire people aged between 30 and 35 will receive regular payments of $100.

It’s expected to create about 45,000 new jobs, despite the budget saying it would support 450,000.

Greens leader Adam Bandt was dismayed government members did not make a speech in parliament to explain why the amendments were not needed.

The government instead provided a written statement.

It argues explicit protections are unnecessary as the credit will not be available for workers who do not increase their headcount and payroll.

The government insists the scheme’s rules will require companies to keep records to back up their claims, and that Fair Work protections apply to employees.

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