Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg remains firm that the JobKeeper wage subsidy “has to end” in March as planned.
He said a Treasury review found JobKeeper is having perverse incentives on the employment market. In particular, it is preventing workers from moving freely between jobs.
“This successful and expensive program must end, but other policies will fill that place,” Frydenberg said, referring to initiatives such as infrastructure and business incentives, and tax cuts.
New figures show that 2.1 million workers and 520,000 businesses have left the wage subsidy scheme since September. with Frydenberg writing in a post on Twitter, “This is good news – Australians across the nation are getting back to work & our economic recovery is well underway.”
2.1 million fewer Australians & 520,000 fewer businesses are on #JobKeeper since September.
This is good news – Australians across the nation are getting back to work & our economic recovery is well underway. pic.twitter.com/ecWEvYy3zs
— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) February 15, 2021
Victoria remains the most reliant on the scheme, with only 44 percent off JobKeeper in the December quarter compared to the previous quarter. All other states saw a drop of 60 percent or greater during the same period.
In January, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called on the federal government to extend JobKeeper payments for the struggling tourism industry.
However, Frydenberg rejected her appeal, telling Today they welcome the state governments to “spend a little bit more in their own states as part of economic recovery”.
“The key to getting those people [in Queensland] back to work in the tourism sector is to have open borders,” he told ABC radio.
New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed payroll jobs rose by a further 1.3 percent over the fortnight to Jan. 30, almost returning to the same level as last year.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent in December, falling faster than Reserve Bank’s initial expectations.
Frydenberg also “welcomed and encouraged” businesses to return their JobKeeper payment if they’ve made big profits, although they are not legally required to do so.