MEAA: “How can support be anything near $10 billion?”

Communications and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher should produce evidence of his claims that the financial assistance of up to $10 billion will flow through to the Arts sector.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance says their research was in sharp contrast to Mr Fletcher’s claims from combined JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes.

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that the arts and recreation sector has been the second worst hit part of the economy since COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the ABS, employment in arts and recreation has fallen by 27% and wages have dwindled by 17% over that period, yet the Federal Government is steadfastly refused to provide any special relief for the arts and entertainment sectors.

Deloitte Access Economics has also forecast that employment in the arts and recreation sectors will not recover back to pre-COVID levels until 2025.

MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said, “Of more than 1000 MEAA members recently surveyed by the union, almost one-in-five said they had been declined access to both JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

“A similar number had been unsuccessful in claiming for JobKeeper but would be able to claim the lower JobSeeker support. In total, 35% of members surveyed had been told they were ineligible for JobKeeper.

“If that is replicated across the entire arts and entertainment sector, it equates to tens of thousands of workers who have fallen through the cracks of JobKeeper, so how can the Minister claim with a straight face that the support being provided to the sector will be anything near $10 billion?

“The Minister needs to provide the modelling for his claim or we can only assume he has pulled it out of thin air.

“In addition to the clear flaws with JobKeeper in not accounting for the way people are employed in the arts and entertainment, the government has also failed to respond to the pleas for a targeted package of assistance to help the sector recover after COVID.”

A survey of MEAA members indicates 68% said they have no paid work, while 24% have some paid work but their hours and opportunities have been reduced.

60% said they had no significant income and 30% said their income had been significantly reduced.

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