Businesses in the flood-ravaged areas of New South Wales should be given access to JobKeeper by the federal government to provide some income security and also maintain the link between the employers and their staff, Unions NSW has said.
JobKeeper was introduced by the federal government as a means of ensuring links between employers and employees were maintained during the coronavirus pandemic, so that people had a job to go back to when the pandemic became more manageable.
Union secretary Mark Morey said a fortnightly payment of $1500 should be resurrected and given to employers wherever an emergency declaration has been made.
“We saw incredible acts of bravery and solidarity over the last few weeks as Aussies rescued their neighbours using jet skis and speed boats. Now the government needs to do its part by providing the financial support that allows people to get back on their feet,” Morey said.
“The arguments that applied for COVID-affected workplaces also apply to flood-affected workplaces. We can’t allow otherwise-healthy businesses to fail because they’ve been hit by a crisis over which they had no control.”
Morey said JobKeeper payments provided an opportunity for businesses to “explode out of the blocks” when conditions improved and that there were businesses across the flood-affected parts of NSW that required financial assistance.
“Workers and employers in areas of NSW, including Richmond Valley, Lismore and Clarence Valley LGAs and flood-affected areas of Queensland, need this support,” Morey said.
“One of the enduring lessons of COVID-19 was just how important it is to maintain the link between the worker and employer. We need to keep that in mind now as we navigate this challenge and make sure working Australians don’t wear the brunt of this disaster.”
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The call from Unions NSW for a return of JobKeeper coincides with a request from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for doctors to be given emergency provider numbers so they can provide medical care in flood-affected areas.
RACGP president Karen Price said it was urgent doctors be given emergency provider numbers by Medicare to be able to both assist in areas impacted by floods and also to get paid by Medicare for their services.
“During disasters. GPs need to apply for emergency numbers as they may need to work in evacuation centres. This includes the work of locums, which are self-employed GPs who can cover where there are temporary shortfalls in general practice care, including areas impacted by these floods,” Price said.
“Without this emergency provider number GPs won’t be able to claim from Medicare. Normally, it takes about a month to obtain a provider number so we must make sure that the federal Health Department fast-tracks them so that GPs can help flood-affected communities.”
This article was first published by The Mandarin.