This week I was contacted by local business owner Peter Rubin. I've known Peter for many years, going back to our time on the Wyong Regional Chamber of Commerce over a decade ago, and he doesn't get in touch unless it's important. Peter is the managing director of Prestige Wedding and Event Hire, a mid-size events company he's successfully operated on the Central Coast for 25 years. As a business owner, Peter has asked that I raise his serious concerns about cuts to JobKeeper with the government.
Regional communities like ours on the coast have been hit hard by the economic downturn. At the height of the pandemic, there were 36 jobseekers for every job vacancy on the coast. In my electorate, 4,902 businesses like Peter's have been supported through the JobKeeper wages subsidy, which kept 18,734 employees, including those working at Prestige Wedding and Event Hire, in work. Peter tells me that most events are still being cancelled or postponed and a return to normal is many months away. He believes that, without an extension of JobKeeper, businesses in the events industry may struggle to keep employees on.
The government should be supporting businesses like Peter's and the thousands of workers on the coast whose jobs will be at risk when JobKeeper is cut in March. Some parts of the Australian economy are recovering, but some communities, industries and businesses are still struggling, and they shouldn't be left behind when the government cuts off JobKeeper in March. The government should be considering options to provide targeted support beyond March for workers, small businesses, industries and communities of Australia which are still doing it tough.