Paterson MP Meryl Swanson has CODID-19 recovery in sights

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson with the welcoming sign into Anna Bay.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson with the welcoming sign into Anna Bay.

The Port's federal representative Paterson MP Meryl Swanson believes the government could have done a better job with the JobKeeper program, would like to see the JobSeeker stimulus extended and talks optimistically about the road to economic recovery once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Ms Swanson added that she was happy to download the COVID tracing app on her phone "for the collective good" and "despite having concerns about privacy".

"We all need to do what we can to get us out of the crisis as soon as possible and whilst I have concerns about privacy, we are in extraordinary times that compels us to act for the collective good," she said.

The Labor MP said that she felt for those businesses and tourism operators in Port Stephens on their last legs, or have already closed their doors as a result of the summer bushfires followed by the virus crisis.

"There have been more than 275,000 businesses apply for JobKeeper and more than 600,000 Australians apply for JobSeeker. I have seen the long queues outside the Raymond Terrace Centrelink and my office has been flooded with calls for help to access these programs," she said.

"[But] there are residents in Port Stephens on the aged or disability support pension who need the coronavirus supplement extended to include them and I've been working with my Labor colleagues to push for that. I have also had local businesses contacting me when they come up with multiple roadblocks for JobKeeper."

As the chair of Labor's Regional Jobs Taskforce, Ms Swanson says she was working with the local community to open up more employment opportunities.

"Port Stephens and the Hunter can play a crucial role on the road to our economic recovery. We have plenty of land and natural resources, a growing workforce and quality educational and training institutions," she said.

"Our transport connections are also good, and will be improved with the construction of the M1 extension. Infrastructure projects like this will be crucial to creating jobs and that's why I continue to call on the funding to be brought forward."

Ms Swanson said that Labor had supported the introduction of JobKeeper because of the urgency for financial assistance.

"Unfortunately, my office has been hearing from employers and employees alike that JobKeeper is confusing and leaves too many behind. Many employers cannot afford to pay JobKeeper upfront and be reimbursed later," she said.

"As such, these businesses may not be able to participate in the scheme, which will see hundreds, if not thousands, of local workers miss out on these much-needed wage subsidies."

She said she welcomed the news that a number of the big banks had dedicated hotlines to speed up loan applications.

If you are a business needing help with a bank loan, the following banks have set up dedicated hotlines: ANZ: 1800 571 123; Bank of Melbourne: 1300 784 873; Bank SA: 1300 669 472; CommBank: 13 26 07; NAB: 1800 JOBKEEPER (1800 562 533); St George: 1300 730 196; Westpac: 1300 731 073.