Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt has said the JobMaker Wage Subsidy must not pass parliament as corporate welfare, as the party’s major amendments to the package gain growing support.
The Greens amendments, to be moved by Senator Mehreen Faruqi, will ensure that companies that have paid increased dividends to shareholders through the pandemic will be ineligible, as are corporations that have been busted for underpaying their employees. Further Greens amendments will ensure that bosses can’t fire workers to get cheap labour under the scheme, and empower the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes.
Labor will cosponsor the final two amendments, putting the government on notice that major changes are needed to secure Senate support for the package.
“JobMaker risks being yet another way for the government to hand over millions of dollars to corporations with no tangible public benefit,” Mr Bandt said.
“We need to make sure public spending is used to create jobs instead of being a big handout for Australia’s largest corporations.
“The Government has been evasive about how this subsidy will work, and seems to be unable to answer basic questions about how employees are being protected. The Greens are moving these amendments to enshrine workers’ protections in law.
"With employment on a knife edge, the Greens are demanding Parliament get to see the full details of the scheme to make sure this wage subsidy won’t make things worse.
“If done poorly, this could throw current employees into unemployment and further drive casualisation and insecure work.
“The Government shouldn’t be outsourcing this recovery to the private sector. Public money should be going to create jobs by building 500,000 new public homes and supercharge clean energy jobs by turning Australia into a renewable energy superpower, all underpinned by a Jobs Guarantee to make sure we don’t create a lost generation of young people.
“A Green Recovery is the best way out of this crisis. Instead, Scott Morrison is doubling down on the failed approaches of the past, giving billions to big corporations while unemployment remains high.”
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson in the Senate, said:
"This is a corporate welfare scheme with no promise of creating good, secure, well-paying jobs.
“The government says they want to help young people, but it doesn’t help young people to churn them through short-term, low paid jobs over and over again.
"The Greens have serious concerns about this Bill and I will move amendments in the Senate to try to address some of them.
"These amendments will stop some of the worst rorts in the scheme, but we're still concerned about its viability as a whole.
"Everyone has the right to a liveable income and the right to a safe, secure, meaningful job that pays them decent wages to live a good life,” she said.
The Greens are moving four amendments to the Economic Recovery package (JobMaker Hiring Credit) Bill:
1064: Excludes employers who have committed wage theft or been found to underpay employees from claiming a wage subsidy under the scheme.
1066: Prevents firing and hiring in order to receive the credit and protects the ordinary working hours of existing workers to make sure their hours aren’t reduced to make way for the minimum 20 hours for credit eligible workers.
1086: Gives power to the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes relating to the JobMaker Hiring Credit including termination of employment and reduction of hours.
1088: Businesses who have paid increased dividends from 1 March 2020 through to the end of the scheme on 6 October 2022 will be ineligible for the credit.
Labor Senator Louise Pratt will be cosponsoring Amendments 1066 and 1086. Negotiations are continuing with the Crossbench and Labor to support all four amendments.