Newstart Has Been Temporarily Doubled To Cushion The Economic Blow Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

Newstart will be effectively doubled in order to provide more income support for people during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced.

A temporary coronavirus supplement of $550 will be added to fortnightly Newstart payments (now known as the JobSeeker payment), bringing the maximum possible payout to $1115.70.

The usual waiting period and means testing have also been axed in order to expedite the process for newly unemployed or under-employed people, including casual workers. The income test will remain.

“The normal rules aren’t going to apply here, we want to make sure people are there on the other side,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday morning.

The boost is part of the government’s second coronavirus stimulus package worth $66 billion. It brings the total economic stimulus to $189 billion, or around 10% of Australia’s GDP.

The package also includes measures of up to $100,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits to keep workers on the payroll during this time.

The Prime Minister said that the second package was intended to support “Australians on the front lines.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg added that it would “cushion the blow to households as a result of the coronavirus.”

“We now expect the economic shock to be deeper, wider and longer,” he said.

He described the measures as temporary, proportionate and scalable, noting that they use existing systems.

A second payment of $750 – in addition to the previously-announced payment – will be available for those not eligible for Newstart, such as people receiving the aged pension or carer’s allowance. It will be distributed from July 13.

More to come.