Vacancies surge ahead of JobSeeker extension, MP says

Job vacancies across the Sunshine Coast have surged ahead of the extension and reduction in the level of coronavirus supplement JobSeeker payments coming into effect on Monday.

Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace says he is receiving daily inquiries from local businesses who are struggling to find workers despite high official unemployment rates in the region.

"These have been incredibly difficult times for all of us on the Sunshine Coast, and for those who have lost their jobs even more so," Mr Wallace said.

"The economic challenges we face are far from over, but I know that there are great jobs available in many sectors on the Sunshine Coast right now.

"In recent weeks I have received calls and emails every day from employers like Kendall and Michelle, who have good, meaningful jobs they are looking to fill right now and who need many more local applicants."

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Andrew Wallace with Michelle Christoe and Ian Van der Woude from Malt Shovel Taphouse and Kendall Morton from Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast. Photo: Supplied
Andrew Wallace with Michelle Christoe and Ian Van der Woude from Malt Shovel Taphouse and Kendall Morton from Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast. Photo: Supplied

From Friday, the Coronavirus Supplement Payment was extended but reduced to $250 a fortnight, equating to a new total JobSeeker amount of $800 per fortnight.

Alongside this continuing payment, the Government will extend the so-called "Income Free Area" for JobSeeker, meaning an individual will be able to earn an additional $300 a fortnight from part-time work, or from running a small business, without affecting the amount of JobSeeker they receive.

Prominent jobs website had listed 1765 jobs available on the Sunshine Coast as of 10am on Friday, September 25.

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Michelle Christoe, owner of the Malt Shovel Taphouse and NightQuarter Markets in Birtinya, said she was grateful for the payment programs which helped keep businesses like hers running throughout the pandemic.

"It's been a tough year for our industry, and we are proud that our venue Malt Shovel Taphouse is back open trading seven days a week and that we are about to launch an exciting new entertainment precinct in here on the Sunshine Coast," Ms Christoe said.

"We have jobs advertised with positions ranging from chefs, restaurant staff, bar staff, apprenticeships and traineeships, however we are receiving very few applications compared to the same period last year.

"Our new venture NightQuarter offers the community up to 400 jobs but we have received very few applications for the advertised roles which is unusual."

As part of the extension of the coronavirus supplement, the Federal Government is reintroducing the assets test and partner income tests, as well as increasing mutual obligations which will require most jobseekers to agree to a job plan and apply for jobs where possible.

The Government is investing $2 billion in the JobTrainer fund and apprentices wage subsidies and has brought forward more than $9.3 billion in infrastructure projects, in addition to the HomeBuilder program and $1.5 billion in defence projects to stimulate jobs growth nationwide.

Mr Wallace said the Federal Government had invested billions of dollars this year to help stimulate jobs growth, and he was sure the coming Budget would include even more.

"It is up to all of us now to work together to get the Sunshine Coast back on track and ensure it emerges from this COVID crisis stronger than ever," he said.

Jobseekers with questions about the extension of the coronavirus supplement, or who are looking for further support with finding a job should begin by contacting Centrelink on 136 240.