Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that the $750 pandemic leave payment for workers infected with COVID will be available until September 30.

This news comes after a snap National Cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders was brought forward from Monday to Saturday morning. The meeting was called to discuss the governments’ responses to COVID-19 amid mounting pressure to reinstate pandemic leave payments.

“I said during the election campaign repeatedly that one of my things was no one left behind,” Mr Albanese stated as per the ABC.

“Indeed, I want to make sure that people aren’t left behind, that vulnerable people are looked after and that no-one is based with the unenviable choice of not being able to isolate properly without losing an income and without losing put in a situation that is difficult.”

Albanese also announced that the funding structure for the disaster relief payments would be changing.

“Going forward, the states and territories have agreed that this payment will be covered 50-50,” the PM said.

“Previously, the states and territories picked up the bill for temporary visa holders.

“This is a fair way, going forward as all of the states and territories, as well as the Commonwealth, understand that emergency payments are just that.”

Paid pandemic leave for Australians who tested positive but did not have access to sick leave ended on June 30, despite an imminent third wave and warnings from Health Minister Mark Butler that “millions” of people would get sick with COVID in the coming weeks.

The payment offered casual or gig workers $750 per week as an incentive to stay home and not spread their spicy cough germs all over their workplaces. It was also available for people who had to stay home to care for a sick close contact, including children or a person with a disability.

The payment was scrapped even though it’s still a legal public health requirement for people to isolate if they have COVID.

The government has faced backlash from the public and a bunch of federal and state MPs this month as many pointed out this was pretty fkn unfair.

Federal MP Mike Freelander, who is also a practising medical doctor, said people would suffer without access to the payment.

“It’s going to put a lot of pressure on people to go to work when they are not well and it will increase the spread of the variants, putting pressure on hospital systems that are already overloaded,” he said.

New South Wales Labor leader Chris Minns also called on the Federal Government to reconsider.

“There needs to be an urgent rethink of the $750 for those who have been stuck at home with the COVID-19 illness,” he said.

“I don’t want people having to choose between declaring whether they have COVID-19 [and] returning to work, putting coworkers, the community and family at risk.”

The government has also faced an outcry over rapid antigen tests no longer being free for concession card holders as of July. Literally who thought this was a good idea?

On Thursday Albanese defended the decision to scrap the leave payment on Nine News and said it wasn’t his government’s fault.

“We inherited those decisions and we inherited those decisions and we inherited a trillion dollars of debt,” he said.

But he still refused to reverse the decision, something he could very well do, because the Social Services Minister Justine Elliot said there was “no money to be able to extend that”.

Butler warned Australians earlier this month a third wave was on the way due to waning immunity from vaccines and prior infections, as well as more transmissible subvariants becoming dominant.

But he said figuring out what to do with leave payments was a “tough decision”.

“At some point, though, emergency payments need to come to an end. It was intended those come to an end at the end of June and we’re following up that decision that was made many months ago.”

If you’re a casual worker and you get struck down with the rona, you’re covered… At least until September 30.

Image: Photo by James Brickwood-Pool/Getty Images