Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today announced a $130 billion wage subsidy package including a $1500 per fortnight “job keeper” payment to help quell the financial burden of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Morrison announced the biggest financial assistance package Australia has ever seen, accepting that “some will say it is too little” and some will “say it is too much.”
The government will pay employers to pay their employees up to $1500 per fortnight as part of a newly introduced “job keeper” payment. The $1500 figure is “equivalent of around 70% of the median wage.”
Morrison later clarified that the payment is a flat wage, meaning that staff who are eligible will receive the full $1500, even if they usually earned less than this amount. This also means that people on higher incomes will not be eligible for an increased amount of financial compensation.
“It’s a flat wage payment for every single worker who fits into that category,” Scott Morrison said in the press conference.
The money will be delivered to businesses across the country to keep staff on their payroll. Businesses will be forced to prove that this money is being passed on to employees.
The new program includes full time, part time employees and sole traders, as well as casuals who have been with the company for more than 12 months.
Additionally, New Zealanders on 444 visas are eligible for the new “job keeper” payment, despite not being eligible for usual welfare payments.
“We want to keep the economy running through this crisis, it may run in idle for some time, but it must run,” Scott Morrison said.
In addition to the “job keeper” allowance, the government has today announced changes to the job seeker allowance, in an attempt to give more Australians access to the much-needed funds.
The partner means test threshold for the job seeker allowance has been lifted to $79,000 per year from $48,000 previously. This means if your partner earns less than $79,000 per year, you will now be eligible for the job seeker payment of up to $1100 per fortnight.
The payment will be made directly through the Tax Office, unlike the job seeker payment, which is delivered through Centrelink.