The Morrison Government has announced it will commit an extra $15.6 billion to expanding the JobKeeper program, delivering a lifeline to Victorian businesses as they make their way through the next six weeks of tougher restrictions.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that around $13 billion of that would make its way to Victoria, with an extra 500,000 Victorian employees going onto JobKeeper through the September quarter.
The Treasurer also announced two significant changes to JobKeeper eligibility – the first is around business turnover and the second around employee eligibility.
“With respect to business turnover, previously a business would need to be down by the requisite amount in their turnover in both the June and the September quarters to be eligible for JobKeeper in the December quarter. We’re now saying that those businesses only need to be down in the September quarter,” said Frydenberg.
“This takes into account that some businesses through May, June, and April did okay, but obviously with the Stage 4 restrictions, particularly in Victoria, through the months of July, August and September it’s going to be very difficult, and these businesses will now be eligible for the payment.”
The second change is that where previously an employee had to be on the business books as of 1 March to be eligible for JobKeeper, the criteria is now that the employee must have been on the books as of 1 July.
“The reason for this change is that some businesses as they were opening up and progress was made on the health front, they took on new employees and those employees will now be eligible for JobKeeper, which will again provide additional relief to businesses.”
The JobKeeper program will now cost $101 billion and is the single largest economic support package that any Australian Government has ever undertaken.
“The Morrison Government is pulling out all the stops and doing whatever we can to support Australians through this crisis – to maintain that formal connection between employers and employees and to help businesses and workers to get to the other side,” Frydenberg said.
“We’ll have four million Australian workers on JobKeeper through this September quarter. In Victoria that number will be 1.5 million – that’s nearly half the private sector workforce in Victoria and we will continue to provide very significant support for those who need it.
“It feels like we’re in the eye of the storm and people are staying home looking after their loved ones just hoping for the worst to pass,” said Frydenberg.
“That’s how we feel; we need to get through it though. Everyone needs to follow the rules and only when we get progress on the health front will we start to see the economic recovery across the nation.”
Just three weeks ago the Government announced that it would be tightening the scheme, and Frydenberg today confirmed that still stands with the full-rate per fortnight payment to be reduced from the current $1500 to $1200 on 28 September.