Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced an estimated $15.5 billion extension to the JobKeeper business relief program as its southern state, Victoria, has slowed down the country’s economic recovery due to the second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Speaking on Nine’s Today show on August 7 Frydenberg said that $13 billion of the extension would go towards Victorian business to help them get to the other side of the “once in a century” crisis.
Extending the program to $101 billion represents the “single largest program that any Australian government [has] ever undertaken in terms of economic support.”
The treasurer went on to say that an estimated 1.5 million Victorians will be on the JobKeeker program in the September quarter, which is 50 percent of the Victoria’s private sector’s workforce.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a media release on August 7 that the new changes to JobKeeper were about saving lives and livelihoods, particularly in Victoria where more than 80 percent of the assistance will flow.
“Australia is facing a situation that is constantly changing. Our response is to get the right support to all those Australian families, workers, and businesses that need us,” said Morrison.
“This means more support for more workers and more businesses for longer, as we battle this latest Victorian wave.”
Changes to Cover Business Until After September
The Morrison government has adjusted the eligibility criteria for businesses that apply for JobKeeper payments past its original Sept. 27 deadline to the extended March 28, 2021 deadline.
Under the new changes, businesses will have to show that they have had a significant fall in turnover for the September quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
To qualify for JobKeeper under the new changes businesses and not-for-profits will have to prove that they have experienced a 50 percent loss of revenue for those that earn more than $1 billion.
Those with a turnover of less than $1 billion will have to show a 30 percent drop.
Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations and commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities) will have to show a 15 percent loss.
The government has also covered employees who were hired after the original March deadline if they were on the business books by July 1.
According to Treasury, businesses and not-for-profits will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees.
Nationwide, the treasurer reported nearly four million Australians were currently receiving JobKeeper payments.
JobKeeper Reduced From September
Frydenberg appeared on ABC News Breakfast and Seven’s Sunrise program to confirm further details about the changes to JobKeeper, including the reduction in the payment ammounts.
From Sept. 28, the JobKeeper payments will reduce from $1500 per full-time employee, per fortnight to $1200; and drop further to $1000 from Jan. 4, 2021.
The treasurer pointed out that JobKeeper is a national program and not just targeted to Victoria, which is suffering a stage four lockdown due to a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The second wave in Victoria means Australia as a whole is recovering from the pandemic in two stages, with Victoria currently costing more money.
The treasurer noted that the federal government had spent more than $300 billion on economic support for the country. In comparison, the states had only paid $42 billion, and he would welcome more financial aid from them.