Australians struggling to secure work amid the coronavirus pandemic should consider moving to regional areas, the deputy prime minister has suggested.
Responding to questioning around the planned cuts to JobSeeker as more than 1 million Australians fall into unemployment, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said that he appreciates that “many, many people have lost their jobs”.
He told the ABC that the “best form of welfare is a job”, and that there are jobs in regional Australia.
“And what we do need more of in this sector and this area is more mobility. What we do need is people being able to perhaps move to a regional area. Something that they might not have otherwise thought of.
“There are many, many jobs in agriculture, in the resource sector. Indeed, crying out for chefs, crying out for people to do all sorts of work.”
McCormack said Covid-19 has proven that many Australians can work remotely, with many turning the kitchen bench into an office from March onwards. Federal Parliament today returned with politicians tuning in remotely for the first time.
The deputy prime minister said regional Australia has led the way in terms of relief as the mining, agriculture and construction sector has “continued at a pace”.
“There are many, many jobs in regional Australia.”
Treasury analysis released on Monday revealed that state border closures could wind back the recovery in jobs growth. The analysis found that more than half of the 1.3 million Australians who lost their work or had their hours reduced to nothing have since gotten work, but the continued business closures in Victoria and border closures between states could undo all of that by September.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said this threat highlights why the scheduled cuts to JobKeeper should not go ahead.
As it stands, JobKeeper payments are set to reduce from $1,500 a fortnight to $1,200 on 28 September for full-time workers and $750 for part-time workers, before falling further in the new year.
"We've said there should be a tapering, but it's a matter of tapering based upon the circumstances," Albanese said.
"Now the circumstances that are there now, with a double digit real unemployment rate, are very different from that which was predicted by Scott Morrison when he said that support should be snapped back in September. What we don't want to see is a premature withdrawal or reduction in support such that it makes the recession deeper and longer."
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) also said the Treasury analysis shows why JobSeeker should be kept at its current $1,100 rate.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said that as 2.3 million Australians rely on the unemployment payment, the planned tapering in September should also not go ahead.
JobSeeker was doubled in March as hundreds of thousands joined jobless queues, but is scheduled to reduce by $300 in September.
The two payments, JobSeeker and JobKeeper, headline Federal Parliament’s topics for discussion for the coming few weeks as the Government attempts to pass the legislation allowing both payments to continue beyond September.
The Government also wants to change JobKeeper eligibility requirements allowing more businesses to claim the subsidy.
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