Pollies wants JobKeeper payments for COVID-19 hardship
The Liberal Party officials who masterminded Scott Morrison's surprise election victory with a multimillion-dollar war chest are considering applying for JobKeeper for after big donations dried up amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the Labor Party is hot on their heels, confirming to news.com.au it also plans to apply for the cash windfall.
Senior Liberal Party sources say they are "thinking about it" to help pay the wage costs of dozens of staff across the country for six months during the pandemic.
It follows confirmation that the Victorian branch was also considering applying.
The $1500 a fortnight wage subsidy is worth around $20,000 for every staff member over six months.
That means it could be worth $240,000 for the Liberal Party or Labor Party if, for example, the secretariat had 12 eligible staff.
Bosses have hailed the wage subsidy as a game-changer but many workers have complained they have been ripped off or bullied into longer hours to secure JobKeeper.
Despite recently claiming $27 million in taxpayer funding from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) based on the 2019 election results, the Liberal Party's federal branch is likely to be eligible because donations are 30 per cent down on last year.
Under the rules, any business or not-for-profit can claim the $1500 a fortnight JobKeeper supplement as long as it can prove turnover is down 30 per cent.
But it's still a cheeky proposition for political parties to claim it because donations always nosedive after an election.
"Like other employers, the Liberal Party is examining all available ways to preserve the jobs of our staff," a spokesman for the federal secretariat said.
The Prime Minister announced the $130 billion stimulus measure last month billing the measure as a "liferaft" for struggling businesses.
"Now is the time to dig deep," he 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."
If the Liberal Party applies it would not be eligible for the wages of staff in the Prime Minister's personal office because these workers are employed by taxpayers.
However, the Liberal Party's federal headquarters and state officials could be eligible.
Nearly 290,000 Australian companies have formally registered for JobKeeper since applications officially opened but close to a million sole traders and companies have registered their interest.
The "lifeboat" option for political staffers is likely to be even more attractive to the Labor Party after it spent $50 million on trying to get Bill Shorten elected.
A spokesman for ALP national secretariat said: "To secure the jobs of our staff, we have made the decision to apply for JobKeeper."
According to recent AEC filings, Labor confirmed it was left $1.6 million in the red after it underestimated its primary vote and, by extension, the public funding it could expect.
Nearly $600,000 of that is owed to Facebook and Google.
Public funding for political parties in Australia is partly based on the number of votes secured at each federal election, which means the more voters you secure the more public funding you secure after the election.
Earlier this year, the Liberal Party revealed it had amassed a $48 million war chest to fight the 2019 election.
It also notified the AEC of $4.6 million in debts.
The debts include a $2 million loan from a fundraising vehicle, the Greenfields Foundation, and $575,698 to the Crosby Textor polling and campaign outfit.
The Liberal Party also owes $297,000 to Google, according to filings in released in February.
Originally published as Liberal Party wants COVID cash