You’re on your own.
That was the bitter message delivered to struggling Victorian workers by Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg as the state faced another week of lockdown due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
Once again, hundreds of thousands of Victorian workers who rely on a pay day from casual and insecure work have seen their jobs vanish and their income disappear with it.
This lockdown was set as a seven-day circuit breaker to try and curtail an outbreak in the city’s northern suburbs. Yet, the extensive list of exposure sites and confirmation that one worker in aged care facility has contracted the virus, has left workers with a sense of foreboding that it could drag on for much longer.
ACTU President Michele O’Neil addressed a press conference on Sunday, and her frustration was palpable.
“Casuals in Victoria this week want to hear why Prime Minister Morrison doesn’t think they deserve help, and why the Federal Government is failing to fix the vaccine rollout despite months of constant setbacks and broken promises,” O’Neil said.
“We know that huge numbers of the more than half a million casuals in Victoria will lose hours and pay this week due to the lockdown and lack of support from the Federal Government.”
The tension and stress that insecure workers live with on a daily basis has now become full blown anxiety for many as those whose jobs are on hold contend with having to pay bills, feed their families, buy petrol for their vehicles or fix a broken household utility.
And where is the Federal Government?
“The Queensland Government and the West Australian Government decided to take on those responsibilities when the decided to go into those lockdowns,” Scott Morrison said when asked about why there was no reinstatement of JobKeeper payments for stranded Victorian workers.
So, let’s get this straight.
After a botched vaccine roll out that had all the urgency of a Sunday picnic, a dereliction of leadership in providing a systemic, nationwide quarantine process, which is a federal responsibility under the constitution, and an indifference to protecting residents and workers in its own aged care facilities, Scott Morrison has the gall to suggest that this lockdown was a choice.
Like you’d picked it off a menu from a restaurant you can’t visit because he and his troupe of incompetent empty suits have been sleepwalking through the management of the pandemic in this country with only one goal in mind.
Taking on as little responsibility as possible in order to get re-elected – the only threat Scott Morrison is concerned about is the one posed to his own career.
For the rest of us, and particularly the workers who are waking up today and trying to do the sums on how they’re going to pay their way through the next few weeks, good luck.
Acting Victorian Premier, James Merlino, couldn’t contain his frustration when he spoke to the media on Sunday.
“We asked multiple times of the Federal Government for support for workers during this period and the unrelenting answer has been no,” Merlino said.
The Victorian Government announced a $250 million support package for workers being hurt by the latest lockdown, but Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have flat out declined to match the contribution.
On ABC TV’s “Insiders” on the weekend, federal trade minister Dan Tehan brushed off any suggestion that the federal government should put its shoulder to the wheel and assist Victorian workers, directing those who had lost their hours to Centrelink to apply for emergency assistance.
Seems that the former education minister needs some remedial lessons on the payments available, because the assistance he was referencing is only applicable to those who are in quarantine.
This Government doesn’t even know its own policies and seems to care even less for those who feel the impact of its indifference and neglect.
Michele O’Neil is in no doubt about who is responsible for the predicament Victorian workers find themselves in this week.
“The Morrison Government bears direct responsibility for the failures in quarantine and vaccine rollout which led to this lockdown. They have made a bad situation worse by withdrawing JobKeeper too soon and refusing to now put in place JobKeeper 2 targeted at the workers and businesses who desperately need it.
“The Morrison Government should put in place JobKeeper 2 for those who need it, hand over the vaccine rollout for aged and disability care to the states, and deliver on their promise of a federally coordinated quarantine system.
“Working people should be able to rely on their government for support when they need it. The Morrison Government this week is compounding the issues faced by hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable workers in Victoria.”
Michele O’Neil is right. Any government that put the wellbeing of ordinary people at the top of its priority list would do just that.
And we all know the only people this Government is concerned with are the faces that stare blankly back at them in the mirror each morning.