Petition to extend JobKeeper for entertainment sector builds steam
A petition to extend the JobKeeper wage subsidy for the arts and entertainment industry is off to a flying start with over 31,000 signatures in its first week.
As of this morning, it had 31,763 signatures in its first week with the petition to close mid-July. Only seven have passed the 30,000 figure since 2017.
According to shadow minister for the arts Tony Burke, it is “one of the most successful parliamentary petitions in recent years.”
“The response is yet more evidence that this is an industry in crisis, crying out for help from this government,” Burked added. “And it shows that the Australian people want the government to do something to save our country’s cultural life.”
The petition was lodged by actor and Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance federal president of equity, Chloe Dallimore.
It requests that the Federal Government broaden JobKeeper’s criteria to include freelancers and contractors, who make up a huge portion of arts and entertainment workers who go from one short-term contract to another, but currently deemed ineligible.
According to Dallimore, “These gaps affect the vast majority of artists and a very significant number of technical workers.
“The Treasurer has the ability to fix this without legislation, and he must do so immediately.”
The $111 billion industry also calls for a tailored and properly targeted relief package.
“We need large and small companies and venues to still exist following the crisis so they can continue to employ Australian artists.
“Australian artists are the keepers of Australian stories. They give so much to our country and to the Australian identity – we cannot do without them.”
In March, when the sector started to shut down virtually overnight and held meetings with federal arts minister Paul Fletcher for a financial bail-out, it stressed that arts and entertainment was as significant as the airline and tourism industries.
The Morrison government passed on a package a month later.
Even worse, finance minister Mathias Cormann declared freelancers were missing out on JobKeeper because they “can’t demonstrate that they’ve had relevant falls in their revenue”.
The Government failed to respond even after it realised it was spending billions less than forecast.
Burke points out, “Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has extraordinary discretion over JobKeeper and can fix this with the stroke of a pen.”