Politics

Anthony Albanese Reckons 875,000 People Have Been Paid Too Much On JobKeeper

"It's good that the government's finally woken up to some of the waste  in this scheme," he said of their decision to cut the JobKeeper amount.

Anthony Albanese

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Workers who’ve been paid more on JobKeeper than they were making pre-pandemic were this morning in the firing line of the party whose whole purpose is to advocate for workers.

Today on RN Breakfast Labor leader Anthony Albanese told presenter Fran Kelly the overpayment of these workers has unnecessarily added billions to Australia’s debt.

He appeared on the program to discuss new changes to JobKeeper, which were announced today, and said it wasn’t right for people to be earning more under the scheme.

“It’s good that the government’s finally woken up to some of the waste in this scheme,” he said.

“We know now that some 875,000 people were paid more than they were earning before this crisis, and that’s resulted in literally billions of dollars being added to what will be a record deficit and record debt that should not have been in the original design of the scheme.”

It’s very much in line with a government talking point from earlier this month, when Scott Morrison claimed that businesses had given “anecdotal feedback” that people don’t want to work because they’re getting too much money on JobSeeker.

It’s left a lot of people with one big question.

Historically Labor’s beat has been to fight for workers’ entitlements, but sadly that seems less important in the middle of a pandemic and a global recession.

Albo did go on to say Labor acknowledged $40 a day — the previous Newstart (now JobSeeker) rate — was not enough to live on, saying the party wants to see a permanent increase. They haven’t given any details on how much of an increase they’d like to see.

Albo’s comments were originally tweeted out by Insiders executive producer Samuel Clark, and then retweeted by Albo himself.

JobKeeper (initially estimated to cost $130 billion) is a $60 billion subsidy for businesses, allowing them to access $1500 a fortnight per employee to keep people working through the pandemic.

Since the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments were introduced there has been plenty of criticism — naturally, some from people who think they don’t do enough and others who think they go too far.

Particular venom has been reserved for the mostly casual workers on low-incomes — ie. those who don’t have access to sick leave in a pandemic — who would normally have been taking home hundreds of dollars less than what they now receive on JobKeeper.

However, economists have pointed out that during the pandemic low-income earners who are provided with a boost are most likely to increase their discretionary spending, while high-income earners are more likely to tighten the purse strings. So, basically, the supplement is stimulating the economy the way the government wants it to.

Today the government also announced changes to JobKeeper — from the end of September the payment will be reduced to $1200 a fortnight, and $750 a fortnight for people working less than 20 hours a week.