JobKeeper Extension Top of Parliament’s Agenda

August 24, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

The extension of JobKeeper beyond its initial six month period to a full year will top Parliament’s agenda when it resumes this week; operating via remote video links to accommodate MPs and senators unable to travel to Canberra.

Australia has fought a two-fronted battle against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus: one to protect the people’s health and the other to preserve the nation’s economy as best as possible.

“At $101 billion … this is the single largest economic support package that any Australian government has ever undertaken,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told 2GB radio on Aug. 24.

JobKeeper was introduced to cushion the financial impact of the virus on the hip pockets of businesses.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Phillip Lowe told Parliament’s economics committee on Aug. 14 the program has done “remarkably well” to keep Australians in jobs amid the crisis.

Without it and the other economic support measures the Morrison government introduced, Treasury estimates that 700,000 jobs would have been lost.

Opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese told ABC Radio on Aug. 24 that Labor will not block the government’s proposed legislation to extend JobKeeper.

“We’re not about blocking and having no [JobKeeper] support. We’ve been like that the whole way through,” Albanese said. What Labor will do is point out some of the weaknesses in the system, he added, such as changes to superannuation.

Finance Minister Sen. Mathias Cormann is focused on passing the legislation. “That’s obviously important to give businesses and working Australians who rely on these payments certainty that the arrangements remain in place,” he told reporters.

The legislation would scale back the fortnightly JobKeeper payments from $1500 to $1200 at the end of September, and then down to $1000 from December to March.

“At some point, we need to get back into a situation where viable, profitable businesses pay for the wages of their employees out of their income rather than on the basis of taxpayers’ support,” Cormann said.

JobSeeker has temporarily been doubled to a maximum $1100 per fortnight through to September.

The government wants to reduce it to $800 until the end of the year before developing a longer-term plan.

Follow Caden on Twitter: @cadenpearson