Call for JobKeeper rethink


Tara Murray

Brimbank council is calling for the JobKeeper payment to be reinstated and the JobSeeker payment permanently increased.

Council will write to the federal government to raise concerns about the impact of its decision to end the JobKeeper payment and reduce the JobSeeker payment in March.

It wants the JobKeeper payment to be reintroduced for the remainder of the year.

Cr Virginia Tachos, who raised the motion, said both programs had supported Brimbank’s response and recovery from the pandemic and the community needed them to continue.

She highlighted that unemployment was higher in Brimbank than the state average, economic growth had stalled and Brimbank had high levels of vulnerability in the local population.

“It is estimated that JobKeeper saved more than 7500 jobs in Brimbank in the year to September 2020,” she said.

“Based on government data, the Brimbank Business Association also estimates more than ,000 applications were made in January 2021 alone.

“However, despite the jobs saved and continuing interest from business, the program ended last month, which is likely to force some local businesses to close and increase unemployment even further.

“Since the state of the pandemic there has been a 65 per cent increase in the number of residents receiving JobSeeker and Youth Allowance.

“More than 16,500 residents now receive these payments, with rates exceeding 15 per cent in some neighbourhoods such as St Albans and Kings Park.”

Mayor Ranka Rasic said the council was deeply concerned about the economic and social consequences resulting from the end of the JobKeeper program and the reduced JobSeeker payments.

“Many of our local businesses who relied on this program will now be left without this support during this critical recovery period and we fear this may lead to job losses in our community.

“I would urge the federal government to rethink this short-sighted decision and work alongside local and state government to look at ways we help everyone in our community rebuild their lives and livelihoods as we emerge from this pandemic.”

The notice comes as the council has released stage two of its COVID-19 response and recovery strategy.

Stage two outlines how the council will look to assist local businesses, residents and visitors to overcome obstacles and build on strengths as the community continues to recover.

The implementation of the strategy is focused on prioritising health and wellbeing, building economic resilience, supporting community resilience and equity, activating public space and monitoring , measuring and reviewing both the COVID situation and impact on the community.

The council will also continue to advocate for resources to support the COVID-19 recovery, including state and federal funding.

Tara Murray