It’s expected that between 100,000 to 150,000 people receiving JobKeeper will lose their job or business when the support program ends in three days time on March 28. But according to federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg: “The Morrison government continues to have your back”.
For most of the travel industry, this news will not be a surprise.
According to the treasury, there were around 1.1 million employees across all industries still reliant on the JobKeeper subsidy at the end of January, though this number was smaller than the 1.3 million they had predicted in the mid-year budget review released in December.
Head of Treasury, Dr Steven Kennedy, told senators in Canberra that he expects a “bump” in the unemployment rate as JobKeeper ends.
A bump? Let’s get real here. If he were living in the real world, that “bump” would probably feel more like sitting through severe turbulence all the way from Sydney to London non-stop. Up the back and in the middle seat with screeching nervous flyers on either side.
Sadly, most would still rather choose to sit through this nightmare scenario than face the personal financial implications that loom large post-March 28.
“We believe that in the order of 100,000 to 150,000 JobKeeper recipients may lose employment at the completion of the program, though there is a wide band of uncertainty around this estimate.” Said Dr Steven Kennedy.
In response, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says small businesses and workers have been warning the government for months that cutting JobKeeper will cut jobs, but those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
As if anyone needed reminding.
“If the Morrison government hadn’t wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on companies which didn’t need JobKeeper, there’d be more room to support those small businesses and workers which still do,” Dr Chalmers told AAP.
The Australian Hotels Association and Tourism Accommodation Australia have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, again calling for post-JobKeeper assistance given the dire situation they face.
“There’s no doubt the end of JobKeeper will create unnecessary hardship for those businesses upon which governments have imposed temporary, targeted restrictions to limit the gathering and movement of people to help save Australian lives,” AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson said.
“The fact remains that while keeping us all safe, these limitations come at tremendous cost to business owners and workers – costs which will continue after the temporary assistance measures like JobKeeper end.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson said accommodation hotels in the major CBDs in particular were desperate for help until the vaccine rollout was complete.
“Hotels in the major CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne have occupancy rates below 35 per cent and are really struggling to retain skilled staff,” Mr Johnson said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the final JobKeeper numbers for January confirm that Australia’s economic recovery is broad-based across all states, regions and industries.
“We know that some families and businesses are still doing it tough, and our message is that the Morrison government continues to have your back,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Most people working in the travel industry (unless you’re in aviation) would disagree entirely.
As far as the proposed $130 million Consumer Travel Support package goes, three days out from the end of JobKeeper, agents and suppliers are still waiting for more details with applications not opening until ‘sometime in April’.
As per the $128 million ’round one’ debacle of support grants, some will benefit while many will miss out altogether due to eligibility issues.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan told parliament yesterday the government had paid out $91 million in grants to 2700 travel agents so far in round one and talks were being held with industry to deliver $130 million in other forms of support.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) had said that it welcomes the Morrison-McCormack Government’s commitment to working with industry to ensure the $130 Million extension to the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program helps as many travel agents and businesses as possible.
Since the government launched the ‘Half-price flights’ initiative a fortnight ago, Qantas and Virgin had reported a 40 per cent rise in travel bookings ahead of a discounted air ticket program kicking in.
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