Aussie COVID-19 Business Relief Program to Reform After September

July 20, 2020 Updated: July 20, 2020

JobKeeper, the federal government’s economic protection measure against the financial impacts of the CCP virus, will shift from a flat rate to a tiered system under changes proposed by the federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Appearing on Sky News on July 20 the treasurer explained the changes were part of the federal government’s next wave of income support after the initial JobKeeper period ends on September 27.

“This has been the single largest one-off economic measure that the Australian government has ever undertaken, some $70 billion,” said Frydenberg.

But because the government wanted to get people through the COVID-19 crisis, the treasurer noted that some people received more money than they were earning “prior to the crisis and that has been one of the issues we have looked at as a government.”

JobKeeper currently provides a $1500 fortnightly payment to all those businesses, including sole traders, who were eligible for the subsidy.

But Frydenberg assured Australians that the modifications of the wage subsidy would not affect those who still needed support.

AAP reported on July 20 that Australian businesses will also face increased scrutiny over their eligibility for the JobKeeper program with companies now having to provide revenue statements that prove they qualify under the new modifications.

“If that turnover is approved sufficiently and they are opening their doors, seeing more foot traffic through their shops, then the JobKeeper program may not be applicable to them,” Frydenberg revealed.

Currently, in the existing JobKeeper scheme, companies that have a turn over less than $1 billion and have experienced a 30 percent fall in revenue can apply for the subsidy.

Firms that earn more than $1 billion must display a drop in profits of 50 percent.

Australian Labor Party (ALP) frontbencher Tony Burke told AAP that he agreed that the JobKeeper program needed to be better targeted through retesting businesses and tapering payments.

“There’s been a reasonable amount of waste and lack of targeting in how the government handled it the first time around,” he told ABC radio.

But the ALP has so far refused to set an amount for JobKeeper.

The Australian Workers Union has said that the government needs to extend the current JobKeeper payment for airline workers around Australia beyond September.

“The aviation industry has been left crippled by COVID-19 with tens of thousands of workers being stood down or facing redundancy. JobKeeper has been a lifeline for AWU aviation members who are battling to make ends meet and face many more months ahead before they can return to work,” said the AWU on July 10.

Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU, said people are worried about their future.

“There are thousands of workers relying on JobKeeper to get them through this crisis. It’s keeping them afloat but only just. Cut off JobKeeper, and you will see families across Australia struggle to cope,” he said.

Floating the idea of an aviation sector JobKeeper the AWU believes the government should only remove the JobKeeper program for aviation workers when domestic and international borders can be reopened.