Bludgers, bottom-feeders and buck-passing in JobKeeper saga

DID you hear the one about the plumber who last week put his wife on to his books as his secretary - then "docked'' her wages by 50 per cent - and she's now pocketing $750 a week on JobKeeper?

Or the small business guy who was getting no work before coronavirus and was headed for the dole queue, but has now copped $10,000 as part of a government rescue package?

JobKeeper loophole that fails the pub test

'Utter heartbreak': JobKeeper frustrations flare

How about the 40-something knockabout who hasn't worked on his local council for 15 years, but a clever cloggs has let him know he's got a few bob in his superannuation and he's now got $10,000 in his bank account, money he didn't even realise was there.

There are winners - and losers - in every worldwide pandemic.

Our sympathies go out to the families of those who have died.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s response to the JobKeeper issue facing Queensland pub workers has been less than convincing. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s response to the JobKeeper issue facing Queensland pub workers has been less than convincing. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

The fact that the Federal Government is committing $130 billion to keep Aussies afloat as many enrol at Centrelink shows there's a lot of money around.

That doesn't take into account what the states and territories are doing. And we all know, when there's a shedload of money being handed out by the Government, it's every man for himself.

Right on cue, the bottom-feeders emerge. If there's a rort to be had, they will find it. For many, bludging is our national sport.

But in all the fiscal friendliness happening right now, spare a thought for those poor souls who are genuinely missing out because of a stupid legislative loophole.

Take the pub staff at hotels such as the Regatta, the Wickham and Jindalee hotels - and many others throughout Queensland - owned by the Australian Venue Co.

Under current Queensland liquor laws, bottle shops can operate only if they are attached to a pub.

The pubs are closed, so of course they have suffered a 50 per cent decline in their revenue.

But because of the antiquated liquor laws, with the bottle shops doing a roaring coronavirus trade, the pubs and liquor outlets are classified as one, which means 1500 workers are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment.

Unfair? Of course it is.

In other states and territories throughout Australia, pub workers are entitled to JobKeeper. This anomaly needs swift and sensible intervention from federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

This is about common sense.

Here you have 1500 workers who are headed for financial ruin, yet they are not eligible for the weekly $750 payment because of a bureaucratic anomaly.

The very people JobKeeper was meant to save - people who work hard for a living and just want to get back to work when this is all over - are not being protected.

They have mortgages. They have families to feed. Yet the rorters and the spivs get away with murder.

High and dry: Scott Vickers, Conor Stanbrook and Cindy Doyle from Brisbane’s Regatta Hotel. Picture: Steve Pohlner
High and dry: Scott Vickers, Conor Stanbrook and Cindy Doyle from Brisbane’s Regatta Hotel. Picture: Steve Pohlner

LNP justice spokesman is David Janetzki is a bright, sharp operator, whose portfolio includes liquor licensing laws. He and Frydenberg need to get their heads together on this and sort it out. There's a Queensland election looming on October 31 and pub workers in Queensland need to know that the Federal Government has their back.

It is a credit to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt that we are now in a position where the virus curve is being flattened and they have set the economy up to come out the other side.

The easing of restrictions can't come quickly enough.

Thank goodness Daniel Andrews is stuck in The People's Communist Republic of Victoria.

The prestigious Brookings Institute pointed to our Government's fiscal response to COVID-19 as the gold standard.

But why have an innovative, modern solution to the economic threat posed by this pandemic if there are loopholes that hurt honest, hardworking Queenslanders?

Frydenberg's response to the problem thus far has been vanilla and weak.

"Some limitations had to be put into place to ensure the program was ultimately sustainable,'' he said.

The Polly Waffle might be back on shelves, but on this issue Frydenberg takes the cake for
buck-passing.

Show some dash, Josh. Get into the weeds on this one. That's your job. Protect Aussies who deserve it most.

It was Queensland that won it for the Morrison Government last year.

The least it could do is intervene and with the stroke of a pen help 1500 workers from the state that gave them the keys to the kingdom.

 

Originally published as Bludgers, bottom-feeders and buck-passing in JobKeeper saga