The federal government has said Western Australia should use its budget surplus to fund support payments to workers affected by Perth’s recent COVID-19 lockdown.
- Workers affected by recent WA lockdown will not get federal support
- Such support only applies to blockages of at least seven days.
- State government says Commonwealth ignores WA workers
Following the four-day lockdown at the end of June and the COVID-19 restrictions that followed, Washington State Premier Mark McGowan wrote to the Commonwealth to ask for financial support for workers who lost income.
The state government will provide $ 3,000 in support grants to small businesses severely affected by the lockdown and restrictions, but under an agreement between the Commonwealth and all states and territories, financial support for casual workers is provided by the federal government.
However, disaster relief payments are only triggered when a foreclosure extends beyond seven days.
“Some workers were out of work for up to two weeks, which exceeds the seven-day threshold,” a Washington state government spokesperson told the CBA.
“These people deserve the help of the federal government, consistent with the support given to workers in the eastern states.”
But the Commonwealth rejected the request, saying the terms of the weekly income support payment had been agreed in the National Cabinet and were being applied consistently across the country.
“Locking down Western Australia did not fit the agreed definition of a Commonwealth hotspot that was passed on to the National Cabinet,” a federal government spokesperson said.
“States are free to offer additional support as they see fit, including the government of Western Australia which has a budget surplus.
“The Commonwealth has given Western Australians $ 7.25 billion in support through JobKeeper alone.”
WA “in a very good position”
Federal Deputy Treasurer Michael Sukkar doubled down on his statement during a visit to Perth on Wednesday.
“Nothing prevents state governments from providing support that underpins their foreclosure decisions,” he said.
“Particularly in the case of the state government of Western Australia, which has a budget surplus, it is in a very good position to reach out and support Western Australians if that happens. “
In response, the WA government accused the federal government of “ignoring” WA workers.
“Residents of Perth and Peel have entered custody through no fault of their own – this epidemic has spread from NSW,” a Washington state government spokeswoman said.
“The WA workers did the right thing, they followed the rules and the restrictions, which meant our short lockdown was kept to a minimum.
“The McGowan government has moved quickly to roll out a multi-million dollar grant program to help small businesses in WA, the federal government must act under its responsibility and provide financial support to WA workers in need.”
The spokesperson said that while WA was supporting the federal government in providing financial assistance to New South Wales workers caught in the ongoing lockdown there, WA workers needed support as well.
“The Prime Minister’s comments that NSW is the engine of the national economy are totally false, incorrect and do not reflect the real contribution that Western Australia’s booming economy is making to the rest of the nation,” they declared.
“WA is the engine room of the nation and our contribution to the nation has only been delivered through the hard work of thousands of Western Australians.
“The McGowan government is asking the Premier to help workers in Washington State.
Casuals claim compensation
Michael Anderson, a casual Perth-based retail worker, said he lost four shifts, which equated to around $ 600 during the Perth lockdown and restriction.
“Considering we don’t have any coverage for the casual workers I know in WA, that adds up,” he said.
“We had a three-day foreclosure, then a four-day foreclosure, it’s definitely thousands of dollars.
“We have things to pay like everyone else, college fees, bills, car payments.
“Fortunately, as long as your budget is correct, you should be fine, but it’s not the best.
“As a casual worker, uncertainty is not pleasant.
“At the end of the day, we’re very lucky in WA, but the casual workers have been kind of overlooked, so it would be nice to be reassured.”
Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association WA deputy secretary Ben Harris said the Perth and Peel lockdown had had a profound impact on casual labor.
“A lot of casual workers don’t work full time, they don’t save for that stuff, they live pretty close to the line,” he said.
“We know there is a huge problem of underemployment in our industry and other industries.
“We know that with the rental crunch, a lot of our members’ family budgets are really tight.”
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