|From Susan's Desk
Australia is now in its deepest recession since the Great Depression. More than 1 million Australians are unemployed for the first time ever, and an additional 400,000 are expected to be jobless by Christmas. These are the facts, but what really matters is the difference it makes to people - for some it has little effect, but for others the impact is profound.
Labor has consistently worked alongside the government to bring in assistance like JobKeeper, as we watched the pandemic affect every economy in the world, including ours, in a bid to cushion the impact.
I am proud that we have not taken an oppositional approach to this, as previous oppositions have in times gone by, but have strived to be constructive. We will continue to do that, but being constructive does not mean being silent, and right now we are urging the Government to develop a plan that will help create the new jobs that are needed.
The Morrison Government has stated its Local Jobs Program will “get more Australians back into work”, but its investment is less than $70 per job seeker. I don’t think that’s good enough. People out of work through no fault of their own, deserve a bigger investment from the rest of us to help them reinvent their working life.
I want to see our local businesses getting back on their feet and providing jobs for local people. I want to see new businesses creating new jobs for local people, as well as more established businesses having the confidence to invest in their people. Those of you who are running businesses need to see the plan to get our economy back on track so you have the confidence to employ more people or start a new venture.
There will be many changes in the next month as JobKeeper rates and JobSeeker rates reduce. As with so many aspects of this recession, the result of necessary government restrictions, the effects are uneven. There will be winners and losers, and it’s the second group on whom government assistance must be focused. It’s in all our interests that no one is left behind.
If you need any assistance with issues like tax, JobKeeper, NBN, or Services Australia (Centrelink) payments, email my office at [email protected]
. My team is always here to help.
Loan assessments begin Banks have begun contacting customers who were part of the initial wave of six-month loan payment deferrals. Those who can resume payments at the end of the deferral will be required to do so, while those still in difficulty can work with their bank to restructure or vary their loan. For more information, visit the Australian Banking Association’s website.
What's changed in NSW
For the latest information on what you can and can’t do under the Covid-19 rules, click here.
This link outlines the current situation and case numbers as recorded by the Australian Government.
From September 28, businesses and not-for-profits will need to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper payment. From that date, rates will be stepped down and two tiers of payment will be introduced. Your turnover in the July-Sept 2020 quarter may affect your eligibility. For more information on the changes, click here.
For those having trouble with the JobKeeper changes, Business Australia will hold a Q&A webinar at 2pm on Monday, September 14, where an expert panel will discuss the changes and what they will mean for business.
There will be changes made to the Coronavirus Supplement this month. The supplement of $550 per fortnight is available until September 24, after which it will change to $250 per fortnight until December 31. There are also changes to eligibility for some income support payments after September 25. To read about the changes, click here.
For Hawkesbury residents, Western Sydney Community Legal Centre is offering clinics every Wednesday at Hawkesbury Central (Windsor) Library, from 10am to 1pm, and every second Wednesday of the month at Richmond Community Services from 1.30pm to 4pm. Clinics will also operate at Bligh Park Community services on the third Wednesday of the month from 1.30pm to 4.30pm and at North Richmond Community Centre on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 2pm to 4.30pm. The clinics are free, and you can either drop in or book by calling (02) 8833 0911.
If you need assistance when a clinic isn’t running or if a matter is urgent, call (02) 8833 0911, or complete the form online.Blue Mountains residents can access the Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre on 4704 0207. Click here for details
State of the Arts
A new Parliamentary Inquiry is looking into the benefits the arts bring to Australia and the significant impacts that COVID-19 has had on the sector. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts is encouraging anyone within the arts community to make a submission or participate in its online survey.The terms of reference are available on the inquiry webpage.Submissions can be made via the webpage or by emailing [email protected] until October 22.
Penrith Conservatorium is also inviting musicians aged between 18 and 24 years to apply for a mentorship and performance program
. Eight mentorship places are open under the Street Notes program, which takes place throughout October and November. Due to Covid restrictions, all auditions will be held via video and interested participants need to submit a CV with a 150-word bio, plus links to a digital portfolio. Submission deadline is September 18.
NBN Information Session
NBNCo is providing 15-minute one-on-one information sessions for people wanting to know more about the network and connectivity. Sessions are available Monday to Friday via video link or phone, providing information on when the network will be available for your home or business, as well as installation and the role of the NBN versus phone and internet providers
.To find out more, click here or to request a session outside of normal hours, email [email protected]
Getting bushfire readySeptember 19 and 20 is the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Get Ready weekend. Now is the time to prepare for the next bushfire season, and the RFS has a great online guide on preparing your home for bushfire.
The Red Cross is also encouraging residents to download the Get Prepared app. The app guides users through making an emergency plan which will assist in case of an emergency. It’s free to download on both Apple and Android phones.
Those affected by last summer’s bushfires can also be assisted by the Step by Step Recovery Support Service. This personalised service assists people affected by bushfire or other emergency events, and has already worked with 60 individuals and households in the Blue Mountains and more than 200 in the wider region. It can help with information, decision-making and recovery resources for fire-affected communities. To access the service, call 0417 298 832 or email [email protected] It’s available Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm.Aged care petition I have been extremely vocal in the past month (and before) about the state of aged care, with the problems magnified here and in Victoria by Covid. I was appalled to hear former Prime Minister Tony Abbott say recently that during the pandemic we should “let nature take its course” amongst the elderly – the people who built this country. Sadly, our current Prime Minister won’t condemn those words.
If, like me, you think age care should be about providing a safe, rich life for people in their final years, you might be interested in a new petition calling for:
- Minimum staffing levels in aged care
- A reduction in the home care waiting list
- Transparency in aged care funding
- Public reporting
- Adequate PPE in all facilities
- Better staff training
- A surge workforce strategy
- Extra resources for the Aged Care Royal Commission
Aged care is exclusively the responsibility of the Federal Government, and it needs to be doing better.
Seeds in SpaceThe Hawkesbury-based One Giant Leap Foundation is offering Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains schools a fantastic opportunity to be a part of an experiment to see what effect space has on seed germination and growth.
The Foundation is sending wattle seeds to the International Space Station for six months, and when they get back to Earth, local schools will be offered the chance to grow them for two or three years to see if space has had any effect.
Schools can register their interest in being a part of the experiment by filling out the form, and the Foundation will be in touch with news on the next steps.
This is a universe-leading project from a locally based organisation, and I’d urge all local schools to put their hands up.Podcasts As the pandemic continues to put limitations on group gatherings, I’ve been holding a series of town-hall style discussions on topics such as the arts, NDIS, education, and aged care with Shadow Ministers via Facebook. These discussions, which include questions from the public, are now available for download as a podcast series on Apple Podcasts
, YouTube, or SoundCloud
.Don’t forget if you are interested in a certain topic, all my Parliamentary speeches are available on my YouTube channel.
Small Business and mental health
The Ahead for Business digital hub has been relaunched by business.gov.au with an expanded range of resources to support your mental health and wellbeing as a small business owner.
Western Sydney Business Centre is running a series of free webinars providing business advice and training for new and existing businesses throughout September. Online workshops include digital marketing, using LinkedIn, and connecting with customers. Click here for more information.
Hawkesbury Business Hub
Hawkesbury City Council is keen to build its knowledge of what local businesses need. Become a member of the Hawkesbury Business Hub for free, and let Council know what you think by contacting Amanda Kearney on 4560 4437 or email [email protected]
Social media for business
Blue Mountains City Council is scheduling regular social media training for small businesses. There is a series of videos now available online, and a free one-hour webinar will also be held on September 22. Register your interest here for practical tips on how to leverage social media during COVID-19.
Love local tradies
Tradies can still register with Blue Mountains City Council to secure more local work. Love Local Tradies is an extension of council’s successful Love Local campaign that launched earlier this year to assist local businesses after bushfires and then COVID-19, and it’s rolling out in two phases.
In the first phase, local tradies are being urged to register with council. Once verified, they will be listed under ‘Trades’ on the interactive Love Local Business directory map
.In the second phase (from October 2020), Council will notify the tradespeople who have been listed in the Love Local Business Directory to bid for its contracts.
Information and resources
The NSW State Government is responsible for deciding restrictions and requirements. For the latest updates, please see their dedicated COVID-19 website
.For further information, please see the links below:
- The Australian Government - here
- The Department of Health - here
- The NSW Government - here
- NSW Health - here
- Nepean Blue Mountains Health District - here
- Blue Mountains City Council - here
- Hawkesbury City Council - here
Keep in touch.
I hope this information has been useful. We will provide updates as things unfold. If there are specific issues you’d like information on, please do not hesitate to ask.
Federal Member for Macquarie