End of the road for JobKeeper

Industry leaders have urged the Federal Government to continue subsidising workers in accommodation businesses when the JobKeeper program ends on March 28.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) CEO Michael Johnson insists there will need to be “some form of ongoing subsidy given the pressures on the tourism industry”.

“JobKeeper was introduced as a way of keeping business afloat during the COVID-19 crisis and in that regard, it has been successful even if it did require some fine tuning,” Mr Johnson said.

“Holiday properties have been experiencing good business during the Christmas period but the holiday season is ending.

“Many CBD properties, in particular, are still doing it tough.

“Tourism Australia is constantly keeping the Government updated with data about guest numbers and it is our opinion that the Australian tourism industry will need continued support given the absence of international visitors coming to Australia and the fact we have many areas of the country depending on those people travelling.’’

Mr Johnson’s comments come as a response to claims by Tourism and Transport Forum Chief Executive Margy Osmond that Australia “won’t have much of a tourism industry left” without renewed support when JobKeeper ends.

Appearing on “The Today Show” Ms Osmond said the industry required “a higher level of support” to persevere through border shutdowns designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

She said an extension of the JobKeeper subsidy, or a new version of it, is “the very least” the federal government could do to help local tourism operators from sinking.

However, some property managers will not lament the end of JobKeeper.

Kerryn Beck, the general manager of the Shores Holiday Apartments in Mackay, Queensland says a Federal Government campaign encouraging people to travel within Australia and book directly with accommodation providers would be much better for the tourism industry than keeping JobKeeper.

“One of the downsides of JobKeeper is that a lot of workers are earning more on JobKeeper than they are earning at work as casuals,” Ms Beck said.

“We had a cleaner working 12-15 hours a week who qualified for JobKeeper. So she was getting $750 a week but taking twice as long to clean a unit as normal to stretch out the hours. In many ways it has been a disincentive to working hard.

“A lot of the staff in the accommodation industry are casual and it’s hard to get people to work for a few hours a week when they can get the same money for not working and receive money under the JobSeeker program.”

Ross Forbes-Stephen, who manages Cable Beachside Villas at Broome in Western Australia, said JobKeeper had been a “disappointment” for his business because of its arbitrary application.

“I run this business as a partnership but we were only paid one amount of JobKeeper between two people, while another similar business received three lots of JobKeeper payments because it was structured differently. Effectively they were getting three times our payment for the same work.

“We had a housekeeper but she didn’t receive anything because she had started with us after the JobKeeper cut-off date. So we didn’t get paid for her even though we had paid casual housekeepers all year.

“Since the WA borders reopened we have been flooded with tourists but finding staff is a nightmare. JobSeeker means that casual staff have little incentive to look for work.

“Until backpackers are allowed back in the country we will be doing it tough to find casual workers in the accommodation industry willing to work 15-20 hours a week.”

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Sandy McDonald
Sandy McDonald
3 years ago

I agree with Ross Forbes-Stephens from Broome. that neither our labour market nor our accommodation offer will recover until our international borders can reopen in the secure health environment that will required to encourage visitors to return to our shores as well as allowing migration programs to resume.

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