Government announces $130b package to support workers

By Shannon Jenkins

March 30, 2020

A majority of spending since 2013 through seven grants programs went to Coalition-held seats. (Oleksandr Delyk/Adobe)

The federal government has announced a $130 billion package to support employees whose jobs have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a “Jobkeeper” payment worth $1500 a fortnight would “pay employers to pay their employees”. The initiative would last for at least six months, and equates to 70% of the national median wage.

The money will be paid to employers for each eligible employee that was on their books on March 1. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from their business, before tax.

Businesses will be required to prove they are using the funding to pay their employees.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the payment would be available to full and part time workers, sole traders, and casuals who have been with their employers for more than 12 months. Those who have lost their job since March 1 have been advised to speak to their employer.

“The announcement today is the means by which Australians get to the other side of the coronacrisis,” he said.

The first payments will go to eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May.

Employers with annual turnover of less than $1b that have a reduction in revenue of 30% or more since March 1 over a minimum one-month period are eligible. Businesses with an annual turnover of $1b or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of at least 50% to be eligible. Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy are not eligible.

Morrison said roughly six million Australians would access the payment. New Zealanders on a 444 visa will also be eligible, as well as migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance, or self-employed individuals.

The PM said the government is currently looking at rental assistance payments, on top of the six-month-ban on rental evictions announced over the weekend.

He also announced changes to the income test for Jobseeker recipients, which would allow their partners to earn up to $79,000 a year before they were ineligible for the payment — up from $48,000.

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