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Small Business Support

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Tags: Economy, Small Business, COVID-19, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we agree that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on all small businesses in Australia have been profound. There cannot be any industry area that has been exempt from the changes in supply and markets occurring globally and also within Australia when we have the necessity of protecting borders from people movement to try and protect different state based populations from the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, which are still continuing.

We are in the Delta wave at the moment and we are hearing daily of people in Tasmania who are suffering from the business losses and the economic hardship that it is having on them and their staff, if they are an employer.

I think of all those young people who have, for so long, been able to rely on having a hospitality sector or a small business retail job to look forward to, to enable them to move out of home and support themselves in their early life, either as a student or in the paid workforce, caring for people or finding their place in the world, and trying to work out how they want to live their life as a young person.

I feel for those people where those businesses are no longer afloat and, if they are, they are certainly not taking on new staff at the moment. It is an insecure workforce for everybody, especially for people who are looking at leaving Year 12 this year.

As a state, we need to understand that for far too long, Australia and Tasmania have accepted outrageously high youth unemployment without taking any corrective actions. They have stood back and let the market rip. The outcome of that for young Tasmanians has been truly horrendous. We have the highest youth unemployment rate in the nation. At the moment, it is 9.2 per cent. That is terrible by any measure.

There is a response that has been demonstrated to work and it provides not only a humane life for people who are without employment; it also creates a buffer stock of skilled employees, ready to be able to work in a range of different industries, depending on the supply demands of those industries. What I am talking about is a job guarantee.

A job guarantee fills the shortfalls in the labour market and provides secure and guaranteed work with full entitlements to unemployed people. It provides people with full legal employment entitlements. It does not form any part of a mandatory eligibility program. It is a fully voluntary option of employment. It is nothing like the Tony Abbott approach to dealing with unemployment of work for welfare. It does not punish people who are unemployed. It recognises that we live in a capitalist society and, despite our best efforts, the capitalist labour market without corrective actions creates a class of people who are unable to get work.

That is unacceptable and the Greens reject that economic paradigm. We recognise that we can have our cake and eat it. We can be stimulating businesses in the innovation of new business markets and providing skills for people who at the moment do not have jobs, so that people are able to step into the business community when supply exists. The job guarantee is something the Leader of the Tasmanian Greens will be talking about, how we will fund that, in our alternative Budget shortly.

It is an important election policy that we took to the last state election. It is ground breaking in Australia. Our policy in Tasmania has been recognised by market analysts around the country. A range of interesting people have stepped in and commented from the national level. I think Noel Pearson made some supportive comments about it.

There is no doubt that we cannot any longer accept a group of people who, despite their best efforts, are unable to seek employment simply because the capitalist labour market at the moment relies on maintaining wages at a historically untenable low level and providing no support for the people who are unable to get jobs in the system we have.

We fully support help for people who are looking for work and business owners who are unable to afford to employ them.