$15b JobKeeper expansion gives new Qld lifeline
The economic devastation caused by the Victorian second wave has forced a $15.6 billion expansion of the JobKeeper wage subsidy, in a desperate bid to keep more businesses on taxpayer-funded life support for longer.
There are more than 153,000 Queensland businesses on JobKeeper already, and now more of them will be qualify to stay on the payment after September under the revised rules.
But it comes at a cost. The expected increased uptake of JobKeeper under the criteria, combined with the deterioration of the Victorian economy, is expected to cost another $15.6 billion.
The decision to make it easier for businesses to stay on JobKeeper was made at a late meeting of the government's expenditure review committee late yesterday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was clear that the second wave meant more businesses and workers would need the payment for longer.
"We're doing whatever it takes to save lives and save livelihoods," he said.
"Australia is facing a situation that is constantly changing. Our response is to get the right support to all those Australian families, workers and businesses that need us, as these circumstances change."
Between the second wave and the expanded scheme, more than 1.5 million Victorians are expected to be on JobKeeper after September, an increase of 530,000 people.
The first round of JobKeeper, which pays $1500 a fortnight, is due to come to stop at the end of September.
A second round of the wage subsidy was announced two weeks ago, at a lower rate of $1200 a fortnight.
Businesses had to show a 30 per cent drop in turnover in the two previous quarters to stay eligible for the payment until December, and for three quarters to keep it going until March.
Under today's announcement, to qualify for JobKeeper after September 28, businesses will only have to show a fall in the September quarter compared to the same period last year.
Then, to keep receiving the payment after January 4, they will have to show a fall in the December quarter compared to the same period last year.
An employee only has to have been employed since July 1, 2020, instead of March 1, meaning more staff will be able to qualify.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said they were easing the eligibility to allow more businesses to stay on JobKeeper.
"As we have said all along, we will continue to do what is necessary to cushion the blow and help Australians get to the other side."
Originally published as $15b JobKeeper expansion gives new Qld business lifeline