JobKeeper payments have been reduced to $1000 a fortnight for employees working over 20 hours a week, and $650 for those who work under, in an attempt to wean struggling businesses off of federal government support measures.
The change comes as a cluster of cases grow in New South Wales and Victoria, and state governments put movement and mask restrictions into place to keep them under control.
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said $7 billion was handed out through JobKeeper in the December quarter, but that economic recovery would have to move beyond relying solely on JobKeeper – with personal income tax cuts and the JobMaker hiring credits set to do the heavy lifting moving forward.
“With our economic recovery well underway Australians have cause for optimism and hope as we emerge from the Covid-19 recession,” said Frydenberg.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said phasing out JobKeeper while restrictions remain in place is premature and could lead to a stagnating recovery for the business community as they struggle to make ends meet, according to the ABC.
“The pandemic isn’t over. Not even close. But at the same time outbreaks continue across the country, Scott Morrison is pushing ahead with a pay cut for vulnerable workers,” Albanese tweeted.
And with the deadline for the end of JobKeeper, the end of March, fast approaching, Frydenberg said the Government had no intentions of an extension and noted JobKeeper was always intended to be a temporary relief measure.