Push to extend JobKeeper payments


Tara Murray

Hume councillors want the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments extended in the current format beyond the end of September.

Councillor Karen Sherry raised a motion at the most recent council meeting, asking council to write to federal Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg seeking an extension of the payments for suburbs that have been in extended lockdown.

Crs Ann Potter and Naim Kurt were also set to raise similar motions.

JobKeeper will continue until March 28, 2021 with payments decreased from $1500 to $1200 from September 28 and then decreased to $1000 from January 4. People working less 20 hours will have their payments further reduced.

The JobSeeker supplement of $550 will be decreased to $250 from September 25, with the supplement ceasing on December 31.

Cr Sherry said the council was dvocating on behalf of residents who were concerned about what will happen once the payments are either decreased or withdrawn altogether.

She said Hume’s unemployment rate was already higher than metro Melbourne and many residents were already struggling before the pandemic.

“Hume City Council is doing what it can to support its community many of whom have been struggling on low incomes for a long time,” she said.

“This [JobSeeker] supplement has provided a welcome relief for those who have been struggling for a long time on or below the poverty line income.

“I’m asking for $550 to go through for a longer time for those areas that have been locked down.

“JobKeeper will be stopped in March 2021 and I think it is too soon for some of these suburbs in Hume.”

Cr Potter said figures on the Australian Taxation Office website showed that residents in Hume were relying on the JobKeeper payment.

In the most recent figures available for April and May, it showed 3065 people from the 3064 postcode were on JobKeeper.

There were 1000 people from Sunbury on JobKeeper during those two months and 750 from the 3047 postcode.

“Now is not the right time to do this, I implore the federal government to have a heart,” Cr Potter said.

“Regardless of the reason we are in a different situation, it’s going to take a lot more time for people in our community to get back into the workforce.”

Cr Kurt said changing these payments would send the area in the wrong direction at the worst moment, while Cr Joseph Haweil said it was “a matter of life and death”.