Government extends financial support programs

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Megan Dunn.
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The Federal Government’s JobKeeper program has been extended until March next year as Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared he’s got “Australia’s back” in dealing with COVID-19.

The payment will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight from October and then to $1,000 per fortnight from January. A new rate for part-time workers will also be introduced.

Businesses will need to re-qualify for the payment to ensure their turnover remains significantly down.

“There is no silver bullet and this is about delivering the support Australians need and the policies our economy requires to reopen, recover and create jobs,” Mr Morrison said.

Income support for those on JobSeeker will also be extended, with a new reduced rate of $250 per fortnight until the end of the year. It means those on JobSeeker will receive $800 per fortnight in total.

“The Government’s focus remains on reopening the economy where it is safe to do so, but the extension of these measures recognises that some parts of the economy will continue to be affected and need continued support,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Mr Frydenberg conceded there was still a difficult road ahead in Australia’s battle with COVID-19 and the economic fallout.

“Sadly, as a result of this global health pandemic, businesses will close and people will lose their jobs, but that is why we have extended the Coronavirus Supplement and announced a new skills package to help people transition from welfare to work,” he said.

“It is also why we are extending the JobKeeper Payment beyond September to help keep businesses in business and Australians in jobs as our economy reopens.”

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the extension of the Coronavirus supplement would support many Australians who may have found themselves out of work, through no fault of their own.

“The Government has acted decisively to support hundreds of thousands of Australians, many who are receiving income support for the first time,” Minister Ruston said.

“We are extending the Coronavirus Supplement and enhanced eligibility criteria for a further three months to cushion against the economic impact of the pandemic.

“We are also increasing the income free area for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other) to $300 a fortnight to encourage and support recipients to take up job opportunities as businesses reopen.”

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn welcomed the extension of the JobKeeper program.

“Building and construction is the industry with the most businesses registered for JobKeeper and that reflects that 98 per cent of the industry is comprised of small businesses and with more small businesses than any other sector of the economy,” she said.

“There’s no doubt that JobKeeper continues to be lifeline for thousands of small builders and tradies as well as many in the building supply chain. The continuing easier accessibility for sole traders to access the scheme is also important.”

The extension of JobKeeper and JobSeeker comes as Australia deals with ongoing Coronavirus outbreaks in Victoria and New South Wales.

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