JobKeeper & JobSeeker

12 June 2020

Senator GRIFF (South Australia) (12:36): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Federal Government's $130b JobKeeper package is now a $60b package with an unexpected "saving" of $70b as a result of administrative error,

(ii) the Government has so far refused to extend JobKeeper or JobSeeker to temporary visa holders – including 97,000 asylum seekers – because it expects them to support themselves, even if they have lost their jobs and cannot return to their home country,

(iii) many temporary visa holders and asylum seekers on visas with work rights are now unemployed as a result of the pandemic, and have no safety net, despite previously contributing to the economy through taxes and being self-reliant,

(iv) poverty resulting from recent job losses has led desperate asylum seekers to turn to charities and community groups to help feed their families and pay rent,

(v) the South Australian-based Australian Refugee Association has reported a 200% increase in demand for emergency assistance between March and May 2020,

(vi) the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has reported a three-fold increase in demand for its food, health and employment services since March 2020, and Welcoming Australia has also reported more than doubling in demand for emergency relief, and

(vii) a May survey from Settlement Services International found 82% of temporary visa holder respondents had lost jobs in the past two months or had their hours reduced and found that:

(A) 62% had gone without meals due to lack of money,

(B) 29% had sought emergency assistance from a welfare or community organisation,

(C) almost 80% had borrowed money from friends and family to pay for essential items, and

(D) 52% could not buy medicines they normally take, and

(viii) in May, 186 charities, unions, refugee and church groups wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Morrison asking for asylum seekers and other temporary visa holders to be included in the Government's COVID-19 responses as part of the "Nobody Left Behind" campaign; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

   (i) extend the JobSeeker payment to asylum seekers on bridging visas currently ineligible for other income support, and

   (ii) extend the JobKeeper payment to all temporary visa holders so that eligible businesses can continue to employ them.

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