Given that the government now has $60 billion unspent in the JobKeeper program, Australian Greens Education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has called for JobKeeper to be extended to university staff and international students, a new funding package provided for higher education, and for free childcare to made permanent.
Senator Faruqi said:
“This ‘mistake’ by the government must be used to provide a lifeline to the many sectors and workers who have been left high and dry during this pandemic.
“With $60 billion of allocated JobKeeper money unspent, the government can save higher education and provide massive relief for tens of thousands of staff and international students.
“The higher education sector is shedding jobs and crying out for support. It’s time to scrap the unfair rules excluding university staff from JobKeeper.
“Desperate international students, who have been going hungry and falling into destitution, should urgently be given access to JobKeeper and provided with income support.
“The government must also do the right thing and provide a brand new funding package for universities that would ensure their long term viability and success.
“There is a real opportunity here for the government to recognise childcare as an essential service and make free childcare permanent.
“For more ideas on how to spend the money, I recommend the Treasurer and Prime Minister read the Greens’ Invest to Recover post-pandemic recovery plan, which can be found on our website,” she said.