THURSDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2021
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s broken superannuation promise; insecure work; portable entitlements; older workers' crisis.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It's great to be here with members of the Transport Workers Union who do a great job, day in day out ferrying the passengers of Sydney from their home to their work, particularly through the pandemic when they were often putting their lives at risk to ensure that we could keep as much normality as possible in our lives. So I want to thank them for the work that they do in ensuring that Sydney works by keeping our transport system working.
Before the last election Scott Morrison promised that he would leave superannuation alone. A very straightforward promise. After the election, he's changed his mind. He now has a plan to cut workers’ superannuation. We're going to fight him because we think it's unfair. It's unfair that the Prime Minister and every other Member of Parliament pulls in 15.4% superannuation on their earnings, but they reckon 9.5% is enough for ordinary workers. It's not right and it's not fair. Scott Morrison engaged this bunch of consultants to try and back in his plan to cut workers’ superannuation, and they said 9.5% might be enough under certain circumstances. But then you look at the detail, the “certain circumstances”, are wages are growing by 4% every year well into the future when they haven't grown by 4% for the last decade and that earnings on superannuation are going to go up by 7% a year. Well 9.5% is not going to be enough to provide a decent retirement for the workers like the people who are driving the buses here out of the Burwood Depot in Sydney.
Scott Morrison will accrue more superannuation in two years than the average Australian retires on. The 15.4% is enough for Scott Morrison when he's accruing more every two years than most Australians are retiring with. How come 12% is not a fair deal for these workers behind me? How come 9.5% is enough for these workers, but 15.4% is necessary for Scott Morrison? It's just not fair. Now in a moment I'm going to invite Marta to come up and tell a little bit about her story and why she thinks it's absolutely critical that Scott Morrison keep his promise to leave superannuation alone. No cuts to superannuation. Labor is backing these workers 100%. Scott Morrison has got to deliver on the promise he made to the Australian people before the last election. Marta.
MARTA FOLKARD, BUS DRIVER: The reason why I'm here and is because I should have already been retired. The reason I cannot retire is because I don't have enough in my super to be able to live a comfortable life. I don't ask for much. All I want is to be able to retire on the money that was promised to us in our super, rather has to work until past retirement age. I'm not sure how I'm going to keep my house in the future and I probably will have to sell my house. My rates are going up. My strata levels are going up. But my super is not going up. If I'm supposed to live off of that super my options are to work until I drop dead or to sell up and move in with my sister. None of those suit me. Please give us what we are entitled to and what you promised. Make us all live happily here and afford a life and a living here where we should be in Australia.
JOURNALIST: As a woman, did you take any time out during your career and has been woman affected your super levels?
FOLKARD: Certainly being a woman has affected my super levels. And yes, I did have a bit of a break in my career. However, equal pay equal opportunities and how about equal super? I mean that might be a very good start. Just because we have taken time out to look after our families should not penalise us later on when we're trying to get on with our lives so that we aren't actually impacting on anybody else. I don't want to be relying on my family or my sister or my children. The whole Australian thing is that we look forward to being able to pass something on to our children. The only thing we're passing on to them is that they're going to have to look after us give us. Give us our super that we were promised and that we're entitled to so we can live the way that we should be living here in Australia.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Labor should be considering portable entitlements for people in insecure jobs?
JONES: Look, I think we've got a problem in Australia that a spotlight was placed on during the pandemic. One in 4 Australians are in some form of casual or insecure work. Now previously we just thought that was a problem for the people who are in casual employment. Insecure work, couldn't get a bank loan. Couldn't plan their future if they were sick. They didn't get sick leave when they took a holiday they couldn't get holiday pay. We used to think that was just a problem for the casual workers. But now we know that it's also a problem for society. If a security guard has got to have two or three jobs to put a roof over their head and to put food on the table, that's a problem for them but during a pandemic it's also a risk to society. And that has had devastating impacts during the pandemic. It's not just security guards, its cleaners, its hospitality workers, it's too many workers in Australia.
I think we're up to three workers in the last fortnight who have been killed on the job because they're doing some form of gig economy job, delivering food on a push bike. Surely those workers deserve to come home safely every night. And what Labor wants to do is ensure that they are treated with the same sorts of rights that any other employee would get.
JOURNALIST: So a portable entitlements plan, do you think that is something Labor should be looking at?
JONES: I think we absolutely should be looking at portable entitlement entitlements. We absolutely should be looking at the crisis we've got in casual and insecure employment. If one in four Australian workers are in some form of insecure work, that means one in four Australian workers can’t plan their life, can't get a home loan, doesn't know whether they're going to have a job next week and has to engage in all the sorts of dangerous and insecure practices that we've seen in the gig economy and people doing deliveries on push bikes. And people well say well this is the future, this is just modern IT, frankly I think there's nothing new about exploiting workers. That's old economy. Let's ensure as we move forward that we've got the right source of rights and protections for workers, same sorts of things that most Australians were think were fair and reasonable.
JOURNALIST: But on the other side of the equation, Australia is in deep debt. Do you have concerns about costing a plan like this?
JONES: Why is it the first instinct of the Liberals, when we say we want to do something to improve workers conditions, is to say you'll get a pay cut, we're going to threaten your job? That is their first instinct. When we're saying workers should be treated fairly and with dignity, the very first thing that the Industrial Relations Minister for the Liberal Party comes out with is it’ll cost you your job, it'll cost you your pay. Is that the sort of Australia were trying to build back to after the pandemic and after the economic recession? Right now, we should be planning for the workforce of the future and what Australia is going to look like as we come out of this recession. And frankly going from one in four workers to one in three workers in insecure work is not a future workforce that Labor wants to plan for. More workers in decent jobs means a better economy for everybody.
JOURNALIST: I know it touched on this a little but what are your concerns when it comes to older job seekers? What do you think Labor should do (indistinct)?
JONES: We've got a silent crisis with older workers. We've got 20% of workers aged 55 to 64 who are out of a job. If this was younger workers, we would quite rightly say this is a national crisis and every organ of Government would be focused on fixing that problem. We've got a crisis. One-in-five older workers out of work, most of them finding it twice as long to get back into a job, and nobody's talking about it. In fact, the only response from this Government is that in a few weeks’ time, they're going to they're going to cut their income support. So let's ensure that we're providing them with income support while there are out of work, which is going to keep them in the necessities of life. Let's ensure that our employment services are fit for purpose. Let's ensure that when they are dealing with Centrelink or dealing with employment agencies that their circumstances are taken to an account. Let's ensure that we send a message to employers that older workers have a lot of value in your workplace. They've got experience. They've got skills. They've got knowledge. We think they've got a lot of value and that message should be coming from the very top from the Prime Minister from the Treasurer, from every leader in Government and from business leaders as well. When you turn 55 that shouldn't mean you're thrown on the scrap heap. It means we think you've got a big future and we want to look after you.
JOURNALIST: Your leader Anthony Albanese has said that the next election shouldn’t be a referendum on the Morrison Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but instead it should be about competing visions for Australia. But do you think that is a realistic goal given the whole world has been overtaken by this coronavirus pandemic and compared to the rest of the world, it seems like the Morrison Government has done a good job getting Australia through the worst of it?
JONES: Australia is done better than a lot of other countries because Australians have pulled together. Australia has done better than a lot of other countries because of the social safety net that Labor put into place. Australia has done better than a lot of other countries because Labor pushed the Liberals out of their comfort zone and said we need to put JobKeeper in place. We need to increase the rate of JobSeeker. We need to look after people who've lost their job through the pandemic. And if it's Labor policies that have got us through the crisis, it'll be Labor policies that get us through the recovery. And if the best that Scott Morrison can do for the future of our economy is to cut your super, cut your wages and give you more insecure employment then that's not a future we should be looking forward to. We need a bigger, bolder vision for the future of our workforce, and for the future of this country. One that all Australians can share the benefits in.