Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview - 2HD Newcastle with Richard King and Shanna Bull

Ministers:

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business

Topics: Federal Government COVID-19 supports, Olympic results, Brisbane Olympics 2032

E&OE-------------------------------------

RICHARD KING:

A lot of businesses are doing it tough hence the necessity for increased financial support and outlining what the Federal Government is providing as of next Monday joining us now is Stuart Robert, the Federal Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business. And he joins us now. Good morning, Minister.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Good morning, how are we all? 

SHANNA BULL:

Well thank you. Now first up minister I must ask you, being a Queenslander, you must be just delighted with how the Queenslanders are going at the Tokyo Olympics?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Yeah it was an amazing day yesterday. I think it was the equal best day in our nation’s history or close to it, quite extraordinary, and wonderful to see great a flicker of hope, especially for New South Wales which is doing it pretty hard. 

RICHARD KING:

We're doing it very hard. Can you just outline, well first of all let’s stress the fact that the financial support is just not for people in the lockdown areas, but for the whole of New South Wales, Minister?

MINISTER ROBERT:

That's right. Because this is going on, and it is at no fault to the great people of New South Wales, we’ve all got to step up. And we've done that. The Prime Minister's announced yesterday, with New South Wales, that the Commonwealth will step up 50/50, in terms of business payments with payroll support now to companies over $250 million turnover so payroll support up to $100,000, and importantly for individuals, so mums and dads, the workers out there who've had to stand down, we've increased the payment if you have lost between 8 and 20 hours up to $450 and over 20 hours increased through to $750, and importantly, there's a whole bunch of Australians who are either of pension age, or on some sort of primary support payment who were working, and they’ve lost over eight hours we are also stepping in with support to assist them for the hours they’ve lost. 

RICHARD KING:

How do people go about accessing this support if they haven't already done so, Minister?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Services Australia is the primary contact for this support, has been for the entire pandemic so my.gov.au, myGov, which is the biggest authenticated platform in Australia, login there and you’ll be able to access those supports, which in most cases will be paid literally within an hour, it's quite an extraordinary system.

SHANNA BULL:

It is important to stress this is not jobkeeper, but I believe it's quite similar to jobkeeper, is that right?

MINISTER ROBERT:

It is, it is highly targeted of course, Jobkeeper was a nationwide response, and we didn’t know a lot in the early days of the pandemic last year. It was about putting the entire economy in to a nice big sleep to try to move through COVID. We now know a lot more, so we’ve got highly targeted payments for those businesses or those Australians impacted. So very similar support levels, it's just more targeted.

RICHARD KING:

Are there any asset tests before accessing the support, Minister?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Not for the individuals, there is no asset test at all. A New South Wales resident can go straight onto Services Australia and Services New South Wales and access those payments. Through myGov for the COVID Disaster Payments and for the JobSaver program, which we are going 50/50 with state of New South Wales, access through Services New South Wales.

SHANNA BULL:

It's good to see people on benefits are no longer excluded but will it affect the support payments that they were already receiving?

MINISTER ROBERT:

No it won’t. It's designed to assist those in New South Wales, who are getting some support payment either through the pension or through jobseeker but are still working. There is something like 165,000 Australians in New South Wales who are in that circumstance, so they are busting their guts to get some hours up to supplement their pension or to get off jobseeker payment. And we want to back them in, we want to say you know what we're really proud that you are actually getting out there and doing all that you can. You've lost it and it's no fault of your own. We want to back you in, that is the key here. 

RICHARD KING:

Okay, look, I think a lot of people have been using up annual leave, but it's not necessary to do that before accessing these payments?

MINISTER ROBERT:

No it is not. If you have lost the hours, those support payments are there because this is not your fault. This is for if you have been doing shifts at Bunnings or wherever it may be and you can’t work anymore, it's nothing to do with you. The state has imposed this for the greater good and so we are going to step in and help people out.

RICHARD KING:

It is quarter past seven on 2HD our guest is Stuart Robert, the Federal Minister for Employment. We're talking about the financial package which the state and federal governments are going 50/50 on which can be accessed as of next Monday. 
Look, there's been a lot of criticism about the lockdown in Sydney. Some suggesting it's a bit of a ‘Clayton's lockdown’ Daniel Andrews the Victorian Premier said we need a ring of steel around Sydney. Don’t let anybody in or out. Would you agree with that, that perhaps that is what's needed a fair dinkum lockdown and so-called ring of steel around Sydney?

MINISTER ROBERT:

These are difficult decisions that leaders have to make that affect individuals and livelihoods. New South Wales, the state is a third of the national economy. It's a pretty serious economy, and a third of the entire country in terms of activity. But of course we are dealing with the Delta strain of the virus, which we haven't really dealt with before, so perhaps past practices, when we dealt with the original strain, the Wuhan strain if you like, may not be appropriate. But we will leave those decisions to the medical advice that the Premiers, the key thing is we are here, this is what we are dealing with, we need to support Australians.

SHANNA BULL:

The Prime Minister said yesterday that lockdowns are said to be a thing of the past with our nation on track to basically have a high percentage of the population vaccinated by Christmas. Would you say that's an accurate assessment?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Absolutely and Amen to that. Yesterday over 196,000 Australians were vaccinated which is a record. Well over 1 million a week, which is superb. So, come the end of the year, we're going to be in some very high numbers as a nation in terms of vaccinations. This is part of the four stage process the Prime Minister has been speaking about. We want to be moving into that second stage of suppression where lock downs are a thing of the past. So we can actually better manage what we are doing in the economy. 

The key message is vaccines work. And I encourage all Australians, seek the best advice. Go forth and put your arm out. 
[laughter]

RICHARD KING:

Put your arm out! Have you? Are you fully vaccinated now Minister?

MINISTER ROBERT:

I had AstraZenca when it became available because I turned fifty. I think my second AstraZeneca shot is in early August, it might be next week or the week after. 

RICHARD KING:

Good. Yep I'm getting my second jab of AstraZeneca at the end of the month. Thank you very much for your time this morning and obviously proud to be in Queensland with all those medals your state's winning over in Tokyo.

MINISTER ROBERT:

It has been pretty good. Also having won the the right for the Olympic Games in 2032, which is something we can all celebrate as a nation, which is pretty special.
So hope from Tokyo, remember though Tokyo had like 3000 cases yesterday, while those Queenslanders roared through. It just goes to show, that we can all get our arms out, and manage this through, and as well as do amazing things in the pool and on the water. 

RICHARD KING and SHANNA BULL: 

Hear, hear. 

RICHARD KING:

Thank you very much for your time minister. 

ENDS