Plea to help artists

LABOR’S federal Perth MP Patrick Gorman has penned a notice of motion imploring the Morrison government to rescue artists slipping through the Covid-19 welfare cracks.

The motion calls the arts sector “an essential part of our economy, our community and our identity”.

It says the Covid-19 coronavirus has “destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of working artists” including writers, designers, illustrators, musicians, fine artists, filmmakers and children’s entertainers.

The JobKeeper payments don’t apply to a lot of the artists working gig-to-gig, and Mr Gorman’s called for a “tailored package of support to the arts sector”.

arts with almost every event cancelled, and a lot of the backup seasonal gigs artists do on the side like bar or restaurant jobs also drying up. 

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance estimates “tens of thousands of freelance and casual performers and crew” are denied Jobkeeper. 

Many are freelance performers and crew hired for short-term contracts for one show or season, and casuals can only get Jobkeeper if they’ve been with the same employer for 12 months.

The notice of motion, seconded by federal Fremantle MP Josh Wilson, is scheduled to be moved on the next sitting date in August but Mr Gorman wants the federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg to act sooner. 

Mr Gorman says the August date is “disappointing” and Labor is pushing for an earlier reconvening: “If we sit in April or May I will seek to have this motion listed for debate that week.

“In the meantime, the motion is one way of putting pressure on the government to change their position.

“Under the laws, treasurer Josh Frydenberg has the power to extend the program to those who currently miss out.

“The only thing standing between the arts community and support through the JobKeeper program is the treasurer’s signature.”

The discretion was built into the bill to let the treasurer act without having to recall parliament. 

Labor and the Greens have both been urging the treasurer to extend the package to other groups left out, like temporary visa-holders and casual employees who weren’t at their current job for at least 12 months. 

by DAVID BELL

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