Extending the Coronavirus Supplement – Delivering for Australians

1 Dec | '2020

Ms BELL (Moncrieff) (18:27): I rise to make a contribution to this debate across the chamber on the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Extension of Coronavirus Support) Bill 2020. I’d like to talk about some evidence the member for Dunkley was asking for. She said that those on the other side of the chamber stand up for people who need help. I, on this side of the chamber, say that we are the ones who are delivering that help to all Australians. The Morrison government has not left any Australian behind. There are very many measures, including JobSeeker. I see that my argument is compelling enough for the member for Dunkley to sit down and listen.

Ms Murphy interjecting

Ms BELL: I’ll take that interjection asking for evidence of what the Morrison government is delivering for Australians when it comes to the coronavirus supplement. Let me go right back to the very beginning when the coronavirus hit and talk about the emergency relief providers that the federal government already funds. One in my electorate that I love talking about is the St John’s Crisis Centre, who do such a great job. When coronavirus hit, I worked very closely with the Minister for Social Services, Senator Ruston, to make sure that those emergency relief providers had the necessary extra funding to help. There was $200 million delivered across the country to those providers that were already in place—because, of course, state governments were a bit slow to come forward in Queensland with support for St John’s Crisis Centre and for those people in Surfers Paradise who needed extra help, can I say. So we, the federal government, stepped up, with $200 million immediately on the table, delivered to emergency relief providers around the country, to help.

Soon after that, the coronavirus supplement was introduced by the federal government, $550 extra per fortnight for those people on JobSeeker. I have had some fantastic stories in my office of people who have actually saved the coronavirus supplement.

Ms Murphy interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Zimmerman ): Order! The member for Dunkley was heard in silence and she’ll afford the same opportunity to other speakers.

Ms BELL: They’ve come into my office and told stories about how they’ve managed to save part of their coronavirus supplement, on top of their JobSeeker payment, to put towards a deposit on a rental property. That is a great Australian story: given an opportunity out of this crisis, some Australians have been able to remain where they were before the coronavirus hit, save their supplement, put a payment down on a bond for a rental property and share with some of their friends. I think that’s a fantastic outcome for Australians.

I will move on to some of the other things that the federal government has delivered. I’ll talk about Moncrieff, because, obviously, I know the numbers in Moncrieff. When this pandemic hit, we had 5,900 people on JobSeeker. In the course of the following months, the unemployment numbers went up to 15,000 people in Moncrieff on JobSeeker. I can tell you that those people who live in Mermaid Beach or in Surfers Paradise who lost their jobs—one in six jobs on the Gold Coast is hospitality and tourism driven; it’s one in 13 across the country but one in six on the Gold Coast—and were able to receive that coronavirus supplement are very grateful for that.

We’ve heard from the Treasurer, and I’ve seen with my own two eyes—particularly today, with the Queensland border reopening—that the economy is able to bounce back very quickly. The coronavirus supplement was designed to cushion the blow for Australians and to help them pay their bills during this difficult time—to help those Australians, those extra 10,000 in my electorate who went onto JobSeeker, pay their bills and to help them see their way forward. That coronavirus supplement has been absolutely celebrated on the Gold Coast—along with JobKeeper, can I say, because JobKeeper on the Gold Coast is what’s been keeping the doors open. It’s been keeping businesses in business and it’s been keeping locals in jobs.

These are very many measures that the federal government has delivered, and I don’t know why those on the other side keep interjecting and disagreeing with the government’s coronavirus supplement.

Opposition members interjecting

Ms BELL: Those on the other side have been asking for an increase to JobSeeker for some time, and this is exactly what the Morrison government did in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It increased the payment to $550 per fortnight and then stepped it down to $250 as the economy and jobs started to bounce back. Now, through to March, it’s going down again, to $150, as more and more jobs return. That’s right: $150 for an extra three months, so actually it was extended to support those Australians back into work. The nation, next year, needs to stand up and go back to work wherever possible. This is very important for our economic recovery. The jobs have already started to come back. Those on the other side and those on the crossbench know that these jobs have started to come back, so it is right and it is appropriate that the federal government step down the coronavirus supplement for jobseekers. We really have to understand that the country will come back from this and that the economy will bounce back. The coronavirus supplement is something that was designed for Australians to help them look for work, to help them during this period, along with all the other measures that the federal government has delivered, including around $500 billion across the economy, in various areas, to support Australians through this pandemic.

I will say once again to those opposite that the coronavirus supplement was there for Australians who needed it most and who continue to need it, and that is why it has been extended through to March. JobKeeper too has been extended through to March. So, over the next four or so months, we will see more and more jobs come back into the economy. We have seen jobs all over the economy come back, and we are seeing Australians going back into work. So I’ll say to those opposite: the coronavirus supplement has done the job and is doing the job. It is delivering for Australians and is making sure that no Australians, especially those in my electorate of Moncrieff and on the Gold Coast, are being left behind. We are the government that is delivering. We are not the government that supports Australians—we don’t just support them—

Ms Murphy interjecting

Ms BELL: No, we don’t, Member for Dunkley. We don’t just support them; we act. We deliver for Australians, and we do not leave any Australians behind.

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