Showing posts with label Jobkeeper program. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jobkeeper program. Show all posts

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron Bay are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 2020:

In Byron Bay, sales of a $9.30 large green G-Force smoothie reveal how the COVID-19 wave has dumped on the NSW tourist town. 

In good times, with 2.4 million visitors a year ranging from backpackers to festival goers and others looking for yoga, surf and a healthy lifestyle, Byron can support six smoothie businesses. 

One of them, Sweet Byron, would sell 19 of these large green smoothies a day.   

Then coronavirus hit, forcing the closure of domestic and international borders. Byron's foreign visitors dried up, and its English language schools nearly emptied. 

 COVID-19 caused the cancellation of weddings and events such as the Writers Festival and the Splendour in the Grass misic festival, which usually provide a boost in the slow winter months. 

Ninety per cent of shops, hotels and restaurants in the town closed. When they reopened before school holidays, the streets were empty and Sweet Byron was lucky if it sold two Gforce Smoothies. 

Those students and backpackers who had remained headed north when the Queensland border re-opened earlier this month. 

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat, according to a map by data analytics company Taylor Fry released last week

This is the most in any local government area in Australia and double the number in capital cities. 

Without JobKeeper Mika Cohen, the owner of the Sweet Byron smoothie shop, said his business wouldn't survive. 

Smoothie sales bounced back during the recent school holidays after coronavirus travel restrictions lifted and the town filled with families who followed the sun north. 

Mr Cohen was back to selling 8 Gforce Smoothies a day, still less than half the number he sold pre-COVID. 

With nearly all of Byron's economy tied to tourism, hospitality and the creative arts, Byron mayor Simon Richardson said the pandemic has delivered a "triple whammy". 

"It is really dangerous times for us," he said. 

Hotel bookings looked healthy for summer, but if the town doesn't get that "fattening" he feared it could "lurch into real danger". 

Hotel owner Christian Millett said Byron had been a stable market all year long, in the past. But after coronavirus shut down weddings and festivals, Mr Millett said he would not have been been able to justify keeping his doors open outside of school holidays if he wasn't receiving JobKeeper.....

Taylor Fry's analysis found smaller firms in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and construction sectors are especially dependent on JobKeeper to retain their staff...... 

When the tourism dried up, it affected the rest of the region with "all the pork and tomatoes, macadamia and the mueslis which aren't being bought".

Cr Richardson said there was a "false sense of affluence" associated with Byron because of its multimillion-dollar beach houses and movie-star residents like Chris Hemsworth. 

"For every $10 million house at Wattegos Beach there are 10 homes that are in some of the poorest areas in NSW," he said. 

Four areas in the LGA are among the most disadvantaged 20 per cent in Australia, and two are among the most affluent..... 

Rents are also high, and Cr Richardson said he has seen more people couch surfing after losing their jobs. A shopkeeper said his landlord wanted to restore rents to pre-COVID levels after providing discounts earlier: "In this time, we can't afford the full rent for the premises ... because there are 60 to 40 per cent fewer tourists." 

Taylor Fry's principal Alan Greenfield said without JobKeeper he was nervous about the future of regional tourist towns, especially if restrictions on travel continued. "If locals can't see a future where they live, they might be inclined to move away." 

Simon Westaway, the executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, said the impact of COVID-19 on his 10,000 members had been "diabolical". Unlike other industries, it had been hard for tourist operators to "pivot" to other business. 

Even if people could travel, the impact of continuing uncertainty over jobs and rising mortgage stress – estimated to grow to $200 billion from $60 billon now – meant visitors were not necessarily buying the most expensive "smoothie". 

"You put all these figures together, and you go wowie kazowie, who is in a mindset to have a decent holiday? Let alone if you are allowed out [by governments]. " 

Although business was down now, surf school director and founder of Let's Go Surfing Brenda Miley said Byron was an aspirational place that will bounce back. "Everyone wants to go there. It is well worn trek from Bondi to Byron, and that all came together last school holidays." 

 She thinks it will be booked out next summer if government restrictions on travel aren't in place. "People who were planning to go skiing in Colorado or France are so happy to go to Byron and surf for a week or two," she said.

Percentage of NSW Northern Rivers Businesses relying on JobKeeper Payments by Local Government Area - as of 22 July 2020 

  • Byron 60.39%
  • Tweed 47.79%
  • Ballina 39.56%
  • Clarence Valley 34.52%
  • Lismore 35.05%
  • Richmond Valley 27.45%
  • Kyogle 21.3%

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Patience with Australian Prime Minister Morrison and Treasurer Frydenberg’s ducking and weaving on JobKeeper support beyond September is "wearing mighty thin"

The Monthly, 8 July 2020:

Amid mounting criticism on social media that he’d again gone AWOL during a crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed his face this afternoon at a well-timed Canberra press conference, in which he killed two birds with one stone. 

As Morrison expressed his manifest sympathy for Victorians returning to lockdown, he also knocked out the broadcast of an unwelcome National Press Club speech by ABC managing director David Anderson. The PM had little to announce – an extra 6105 home-care packages for the elderly at a cost of $326 million – but he was flanked by Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, who mouthed all of 180 words (including “Thanks, PM”) and received no questions. The press gallery was mostly interested in the implications of Victoria’s second wave for the federal government’s recovery plans. Morrison suggested there would not be an extension of the JobKeeper program on a geographic basis – just for Victorians, say – making the point that the government would extend support for businesses or industries in need beyond September, and saying, “this is about tailoring a national program to provide support where the support is needed”. The PM also refused to be drawn on reports [$] that the personal income tax cuts slated for 2022–23 might be brought forward to stimulate the economy, saying, “That’s a matter that the treasurer and I will address in the context of the budget, not today”..... 

Millions of Australians are doing it tough. Some are surviving without any income at all, while 2.4 million people have raided [$] their super early, in withdrawals totalling $27 billion. And, with the federal budget heading for a deficit next financial year (which Westpac estimates at $240 billion), it is hard to see how the top economic priority right now is bringing forward income tax cuts that will favour the wealthy. Victoria’s return to lockdown highlights the uncertainty of the situation confronting the federal government as it prepares the July 23 economic statement. But as shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said at a doorstop interview today, “If the banks can provide some certainty with this announcement, the Morrison Government can too – by releasing their secret report into the JobKeeper payments … We need the government to come clean.” Chalmers expressed support for the idea of bringing income tax cuts forward, saying that the Opposition would “engage with that constructively and responsibly”, adding, “Labor has been calling for that to be considered for some time. The working families of middle Australia need help now, not later.” 

It would be an understatement to say that patience with the PM and treasurer’s ducking and weaving on support beyond September is wearing mighty thin.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Scott Morrison admits to being on holiday on the day an elderly Victorian man died from COVID-19 infection

Sometime around 5 July 2020 Australian Prime Minister & MP for Cook Scott Morrison began a planned fortnight's holiday.

Like his holiday trip to Hawaii during some of the worst days of the 2019-20 bushfire season, he did not announce his plans.

Indeed this time he went to some lengths to disguise his absence by doing a phone interview on 2GB radio which was aired in the early evening of 6 July.

However, as press releases are a poor substitute he had to return to Canberra and show his face on 9 July because social media had begun to comment negatively on his absence.

On 10 July he again fronted the media where he admitted that he will be at his holiday retreat for the next week and will conduct any government business from there via phone, email or video conferencing.

This two-day return to work over he went back to "Jenny and the girls".

On 11 July now he was openly holidaying he decided to attend a football match at Kogarah, where he didn't wear a mask or practice social distancing but did scoff a beer or two or three or......

Something which I'm sure impressed those living south of the Murray River - especially the millions of Melburnians suddenly in COVID-19 lockdown due to a surge in infection numbers, as well as the familes of an elderly Victorian man in his 90s who died sometime on 10 July and a Victorian man in his 70s who died sometime during the night of 11 July after succumbing to this serious disease.

Morrison returns to Canberra at the end of this week ahead of the government's update on the economic and fiscal outlook on Thursday, 23 July 2020. On that Thursday he is also expected to announce how many people will be losing the JobKeeper wage subsidy by the end of September.

* Images found on Twitter,  Daily Mail Online @rami_ykmour

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Is the Morrison Government rushing like a bull at the gate in trying to roll back COVID-19 financial assistance at the earliest opportunity?

There were est. 1.3 million children in childcare and 200,000 staff in the early childhood education and care sector across Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
On 23 March 2020 the Morrison Government announced it would help families with the cost of child care and provide support for child care centres to remain viable and pay staff during enforced COVID-19 closures.
On 2 April it announced the government had suspended its usual childcare subsidies and instead offered to pay 50% of childcare centres’ usual fees based on February enrolments, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stating that “Around one million families are set to receive free child care during the coronavirus pandemic...This plan complements more than $1 billion we expect the sector to receive through our new JobKeeper payment to help ensure many of the 200,000 vital early education workforce can stay connected to services….The plan means the sector is expected to receive $1.6 billion over the coming three months from taxpayer subsidies”.
This announce meant that child care operators would be receiving in total $300 million more in government funding than they would otherwise receive over a three month period.
Then on 1 May the Morrison Government announced a boost for not-for-profit organisations and educators from family daycare and in home care services which are not eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy.
By 19 May it was being reported in The Guardian that: education department report found that a quarter of childcare centres found the free childcare system – due to conclude at the end of June – had not helped them remain financially viable. Education department officials have blocked the release of the full report, claiming cabinet and commercial confidentiality.
Tehan claimed success because 99% of centres are still operating and said the government is consulting the sector “to make sure any changes will see the sector continue to thrive”.
Tehan said “no decision” had been taken on ending free childcare but “if demand continues to increase at the levels we’re seeing it, we have to understand that this system was put in place to deal with falling demand”.
Come 8 June 2020 and Minister for Education and Liberal MP for Wannon Dan Tehan issued a media release which stated in part:
As Australians return to their workplace, businesses re-open and children return to classroom learning, the Government will resume the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to support families to access affordable child care.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the temporary Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, introduced on 6 April, had done its job and would be turned off on 12 July.

From 13 July, the CCS will return, along with new transition measures to support the sector and parents as they move back to the subsidy. To ensure Government support is appropriately targeted, JobKeeper will cease from 20 July for employees of a CCS approved service and for sole traders operating a child care service.

The Government will pay approximately $2 billion in CCS this quarter to eligible families. The CCS is means-tested to ensure that those who earn the least receive the highest level of subsidy.

In addition to the CCS, the Government will pay child care services a Transition Payment of 25 per cent of their fee revenue during the relief package reference period (17 February to 1 March) from 13 July until 27 September. Importantly, the last two payments scheduled for September will be brought forward to help with the transition and cash flow.

This additional Transition Payment of $708 million replaces JobKeeper and applies important conditions on child care providers.

Until 27 September 2020 child care fees will be capped at 17 February to 1 March levels and there will be an easing of the Activity Test.

So five weeks after this latest announcement there will be no free child care for sole parents or couples anymore and another two weeks after that eligible child care workers will not receive the $1,500 before tax fortnightly wage.

There is no explanation for why child care workers are losing JobKeeper payments eleven weeks ahead of schedule. One has to suspect that being a lower paid, predominately female workforce it is seen as easy pickings by the Morrison Cabinet.

With no employment ‘snapback’ in sight due to an Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment To Population Ratio, Australia Graph like this (left) as well as calls for the abolition of penalty rates and a general wage freeze, one wonders how a return to fee paying child care in July will assist the unemployed and underemployed to get their family finances back to pre-COVID-19 levels, if at the very least the average fee for one child would be in the vicinity of est. $84-$100 a week after subsidy coming out of a family income which for many may be between $388 to $468 a week by the end of September.

It is thought likely under these conditions that the increase in enrolments that Tehan talks about (which in reality has only reached 75% of normal capacity by his own admission) will fall away in the next two months.

In the last 30 days a total of 32 child care businesses were listed for sale at

Monday, 18 May 2020

Unemployment in Australia in March to May 2020

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labor Force, Australia, April 2020, there were 832,500 unemployed persons at the end of April based on original data, which resulted in an unemployment rate of 6.3%.

That was a rise of 63,800 unemployed persons since the end of March 2020.

A number which could have been much higher if it were not that those registered to receive JobKeeper subsidised wage payments are considered employed - even those with no active job to go to.

On 14 May 2020 the Prime Minister announced a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.2% and the Treasurer stated that 594,000 people had lost their jobs since COVID-19 public health restrictions began to affect businesses.

However, both Morrison and Frydenberg fail to point out that those 594,000 newly unemployed are in addition to the est. 238,500 already unemployed persons‬

Even with JobKeeper payments now keeping unemployment figures down by an est. 3.3 to 5.5 million people Treasury expects that the unemployment rate will rise to around 10% by end of June 2020.

According to a Senate estimates hearing on 30 April 2020, an est. 400,000 more people are expected to lose their jobs by September, at which time the unemployment rate is predicted to be around 13%.

September is of course the month indicated by Morrison as the period in which he intends to start rolling back enhanced unemployment benefits - a month in which the Dept. of Social Services expects 1.7 million people to be receiving the Jobseeker payment.

According to the Morrison Government it expects to have returned 850,000 people to employment by the time all the public health restrictions have been lifted.

If in around four months time as many as 7.2 million Australians are expected to be either unemployed or in uncertain employment because their jobs depend on government subsidied wages, one wonders why the Morrison Government is boasting of so low a figure - less than 12% of that 7.2 million. 

Saturday, 18 April 2020

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