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Speech: JobMaker Hiring Credit Bill - Consideration of House of Representatives Message

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 12 Nov 2020

The Greens have a very strong position that the Senate should insist on its amendments to this Economic Recovery Package (JobMaker Hiring Credit) Amendment Bill 2020. We've been here for the last two days debating the JobMaker hiring credit scheme which, in the legislation, is no scheme at all. There have been members who have stood up—many members over the last two days—and spoken about the bill. And many on this side have expressed their deep concerns about the bill and the implications of the bill.

The Greens really believe that it is, at the end of the day, a corporate welfare scheme with very little chance, or indeed no promise, of creating good, secure, well-paying jobs. We have expressed our concerns that the bill does nothing to prevent the wage subsidy from being used to bolster corporate profits, because we know that many businesses which will be eligible for the scheme have made profits during the pandemic. They have given millions of dollars of dividends to their shareholders through the public purse. They have paid their executives bonuses using public money. We know that there is nothing in this bill preventing wage thieves, for instance, from not having their eligibility revoked—and we know the history of many of the big corporations which have really been exploiting and underpaying their workers. This bill doesn't provide a dispute resolution process. This leaves workers who have their hours reduced or even lose their jobs really exposed. And we know that none of the regulations are in this bill.

On all these issues we have moved amendments, to make sure that this bill, in some way, shape or form, is improved. Although I'm very disappointed that the Greens amendments on these issues haven't been supported by the majority of the Senate, I have to accept that that's the way it is. But there have been amendments that the Senate has approved and passed. One of those is a very crucial amendment that I moved on behalf of the Greens. It makes sure that there are safeguards for workers and makes sure that there are protections for existing workers, to ensure that they do not lose hours of work or their jobs so that businesses which fiddle their books can hire workers who might be eligible for the credit. New jobs should not come at the expense of existing jobs and workers must be protected. We know who the workers will be that will go. It will be older workers. With the way this legislation stands now, companies can easily get rid of those older workers to make way for other workers who they will get a benefit for through the scheme.

We note that the Senate accepted an amendment about creating transparency and reporting on what happens. The government in the House of Representatives did not accept the Senate's will. That's in a way really subverting what the Senate said. We won't let that happen. It shouldn't be allowed to happen. We have been here discussing and debating. The will of the Senate should stand. This bill should be accepted in the way that it was amended. We are here right now making sure that that will happen.

HANSARD LINK

So everyone in this chamber should have it very clear that there is nothing in the bill stopping employers from firing their staff or from reducing their hours. Yesterday we moved an amendment to actually have in the bill a dispute resolution process, which the chamber didn't agree to. So not only can they fire their staff and reduce their hours but those workers have no avenue to complain or to have a dispute resolution process. That's what One Nation are voting for today. They are throwing all workers—young, old or otherwise—under the bus today, and I hope that they will face the consequences of this decision. But, unfortunately, it will be too late for the workers that they have thrown under the bus.

HANSARD LINK

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