$130b rescue package to keep 6 million in jobs
SIX million endangered workers heading for the unemployment scrap heap will be paid $1500 a fortnight under a monumental $130 billion economic life-support plan that will define the Morrison Government.
The warlike rescue package, the biggest in the nation's history, last night prevented further workers being stood down by businesses sucker punched by the coronavirus, and gave at-risk workers much-needed economic security.
Business, lobby groups and unions immediately welcomed the new JobKeeper program, which now means taxpayers will pay the wages of private sector employees for six months.
It allows businesses to keep paying their staff - even if there is no work for them - in a bid to ensure when the economy is no longer mothballed firms will be able to open with trained staff ready to go.
The Government wants to take pressure off Centrelink staff working around the clock but also wants to remove the shame many will feel about joining the welfare system.
Australian shares increased by 7 per cent after the announcement and at 4pm Queensland time yesterday 8000 business had already registered for the payment.
It works like this. Those full-time, part-time and some casuals who were stood down after March because of the coronavirus will be paid $1500 a fortnight before tax by their employers.
Payments will flow by May but backdated to March.
Those businesses that have no cash flow now will be able to get a bank loan.
It will also be open to those still working and at risk of losing their jobs.
It means business can top up payments and pay their staff more on top of the $1500 a fortnight.
The cashflow could keep businesses open.
It equates to about 70 per cent of the median wage, and 100 per cent of the median wage in heavily hit sectors such as retail and hospitality.
Business will have to register with the Australian Taxation Office.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
Mr Morrison said the package was "uniquely Australian", and dismissed criticisms other countries were doing more.
The Australian lifeline is more generous the New Zealand's plan and runs for six months - not three months that is planned in the United Kingdom.
"Now is the time to dig deep,'' Mr Morrison said.
"We are living in unprecedented times. With the twin battles that we face and that we fight against a virus and against the economic ruin that it can threaten.
"This calls for unprecedented action. Governments making decisions like they never have before. And today, our government has made a decision today and that I announce today that no government has made before.
"This is an incentive to keep people on doing actual work … they can keep them on the books, on the payrolls.
"This is not money for people to sit and do nothing.
"Our JobKeeper plan sees every Australian worker the same way, no matter what you earn.
"There is not more support for someone than there is for others.
"That is not the Australian way."
The payment will apply to companies that have seen a 30 per cent reduction in revenue and, for firms with a turnover exceeding $1 billion, a 50 per cent reduction in business.
Mr Morrison also announced much-called for reforms to the income test for people on the JobSeeker payment, allowing their partners to earn almost double $80,000 a year before they were ineligible for the payment.
The Government last week increased the JobSeeker payment, previously called Newstart, to $1100 a fortnight.
Parliament will have to be resumed to pass the legislation but that is not expected to happen until next week.
It will require support for the Labor Party, which is likely to support the plan.
Mr Morrison revealed yesterday he would provide weekly coronavirus updates to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
One million workers are already out of work because of Government-imposed shutdowns and long lines outside of Centrelink have broken the hearts of many across the country.
WHO IS ELIBIGLE?
■ Eligible employees will receive a minimum of $1500 a fortnight, before tax, for six months from their employers. It will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of JobKeeper Payments.
■ It includes full time and part time employees, including stood down employees and where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months.
■ Employees who have multiple employers must notify the employer that is their primary employer.
■ Employees who are not Australian citizens must notify their employer of their visa status, to allow their employer to determine if they are an eligible employee.
■ Employees who are currently in receipt of an income support payment must notify Services Australia of their new income.
■ If you have been stood down, your employer must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
■ If you were employed on March 2020, subsequently ceased employment and then were re-engaged by the same eligible employer, you will receive, at a minimum, $1500 a fortnight, before tax.
■ Employers (including non-for-profits) will be eligible for the subsidy if they have: less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago; or their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago.
■ Employers must elect to participate in the scheme. They will need to make an application to the ATO and provide supporting information demonstrating a downturn in their business. In addition, employers must report the number of eligible employees employed by the business on a monthly basis.
■ Eligible employers will receive the payment for each eligible employee that was on their books on from March 2020 and continues to be engaged by that employer - including full-time, part-time, long-term casuals and stood down employees.
■ Casual employees eligible for the JobKeeper Payment are those employees who have been with their employer on a regular basis for at least the previous 12 months as at March 2020.
To be eligible, an employee must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more.
Originally published as $130b rescue package to keep 6 million in jobs