The Australian government insists the $60 (US $39.2) billion “reporting error” in its Jobkeeper scheme is “very good news”, but is showing little sign of wanting to use the unspent money to extend or broaden the program.
The government admitted on May 22 its JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to assist businesses and workers through the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the novel coronavirus, will now be $70 billion rather than $130 billion and will now only cover 3.5 million people rather than 6.5 million that had been forecast.
“It means that businesses are in better shape than we might have anticipated when those original forecasts were put in place. It does mean that we’re in a better position as we work our way towards recovery,” federal minister for energy Angus Taylor told Sky News on Sunday.
Labor has been calling for the JobKeeper payment to be broadened to casuals and other work groups that missed out, but the government has repeatedly rejected the idea, even with the program now much smaller.
Liberal backbencher Julian Leeser said the six-month JobKeeper program is due to be reviewed at the end of June and any changes to the program will be part of that discussion.
“I think it’s important to remember here that this is all borrowed money,” Leeser told ABC TV.
“So instead of paying back $130 billion of borrowed money, we’re paying back $70 billion of borrowed money. That’s still a very large amount of money that taxpayers of the current generation and future generations will need to pay back.”
By Colin Brinsden