Under fierce attacks from the opposition over his decision not to release the Department of Treasury’s review into the government’s $70 billion wage subsidy scheme, JobKeeper, Mr Morrison said he was “carefully weighing up” the important issues.
Labor has seized on modelling showing about 4800 businesses and an estimated 18,000 workers in the electorate, which takes in Queanbeyan and includes the towns of Yass, Bega and Cooma, were reliant on the subsidy.
Ms McBain and Labor’s treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers have called on the government to release the review and reveal whether the $1500-a-fortnight payment would be made available beyond its September cut-out date.
“I’ve already flagged very clearly there will be a next phase and we are calibrating that next phase and targeting it to ensure that the support is there for those businesses and those employees who will continue to need it,” Mr Morrison said.
“But for many other businesses, we’re pleased to see that there has been some improvement and so these are decisions that you don’t rush to meet Labor’s timetable.”
Dr Kotvojs, appearing alongside Mr Morrison at Lobs Hole in Kosciuszko National Park, was forced to defend a submission she made to the royal commission into the summer’s bushfires.
Labor seized on the words, written by the candidate and her husband Alan Burdon in April, which called for fuel loads to be better managed and did not reference climate change.
“For us, there is only one issue — fuel load. Unless this is addressed, everything else is meaningless,” they wrote.
Dr Kotvojs said she believed the climate was changing and that humans were contributing to that change.
“Where I live, the fires came through our farm and we watched them coming at Cobargo, into Dignams Creek, and the areas where there been hazard reduction already occur, the fire came through low intensity and much slower,” she said.
“It caused much less damage. The area where the hazard reduction hadn’t occurred, the fire was just so intense. It’s caused so much damage.”
Ms McBain, who stood aside as Bega Valley mayor to contest the by-election, said on Tuesday that holding onto the seat vacated by two-time MP Mike Kelly was going to be “difficult”.
ALP sources told The Herald that preferences from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party would be critical for the party’s chances to retaining the seat. Mr Kelly won by about 1 per cent last May.
They said it remained uncertain whether Nationals voters would give their second preference to the Liberals and there was an grassroots campaign among some party members to send a protest vote elsewhere.
Ms McBain said the community was “really hurting” after drought, bushfire and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down the tourism sector.
“I’ve spoken to so many business owners, so many residents. Everybody is really concerned about the future of their work, the future of their jobs,” she said.
“They actually want someone that’s going to go into bat for them long term. Not someone that just shows up during a by-election, but someone who’s already got their runs on the board.”
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra