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Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Page: 3398


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (10:02): It has been a challenging time, particularly for workers and businesses. Since the government's rollout of the JobKeeper payment and other measures, I decided to start a survey of how the government's support is helping businesses. What we found is that only 67 per cent of the businesses that we surveyed had accessed any government support, and it was mostly the JobKeeper payment and the cash flow boost. When it came to the JobKeeper payment, these were some of their comments: 'Poorly communicated, poorly rolled out'; 'Given the short time frame, there was always likely to be problems; however, the government has moved quickly from the position of "We're all in this together" to making businesses bear the brunt of the work and the costs'; 'Confirmation that paying wages in advance is a challenge. It's really scary if we make a mistake, or the payment doesn't come through'; 'So many workers are eligible for JobKeeper, but I don't have the cash flow to pay them in advance. I haven't participated because of this fact.' The government needs to do more to help our businesses, particularly our small businesses. If you want a snap back, you need to ensure that more have access to the JobKeeper payment and that more have the ability to access loans to help those in need.

There's another area of the JobKeeper payment where the government have let the community down, and that's with the universities. I was saddened and very disappointed to read last night that La Trobe University has moved to offer redundancies to their workforce—not all their workers, but they're calling for voluntary redundancies. They said it's because the government did not extend the JobKeeper payment to universities. In fact, the government has changed the rules again and again to actively exclude them. It is this government's fault that workers at La Trobe University in my electorate will now find themselves unemployed, out of a job. I hope the university does not have to go to forced redundancies. As all members know, universities in regional areas are important employers. We want to be a university city in Bendigo. We want to make sure we have that link between universities, research, and our manufacturing sector. However, it will only happen if the government helps Bendigo La Trobe and all universities right now. It is not their fault that they are in this situation. It is because of this health crisis and because governments have moved quickly to close down our economy and our society that they are in this position. Just as the government is helping businesses and not-for-profit organisations, it should help universities like La Trobe. It should help save these hundreds of jobs that we need. To snap back, you need universities. The government should act today and extend the JobKeeper payment. (Time expired)