NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian is in talks with the federal government about additional financial support as the Covid outbreak in Sydney worsens.
The city registered 172 new cases on Tuesday, the highest number since 205 infections on April 15, 2020.
With no hopes the lockdown will end as planned on Friday, NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to reintroduce JobKeeper, the wage subsidy scheme that paid struggling businesses $1,500 per employee every two weeks in 2020.
Gladys Berejiklian in talks with federal government over additional financial support as Covid outbreak worsens in Sydney
Members of the public queue at a pop-up vaccination clinic in Sydney’s western suburb of Merrylands
Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday that talks with the Commonwealth are underway.
When asked if she wanted JobKeeper back, Ms Berejiklian declined to comment, saying, “I’ll leave it at that.”
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Commonwealth is open to additional support.
“Our policy has never been established and forgotten. You never know what’s around the corner, you have to be flexible, you have to adapt to changing circumstances,” he said.
“We continue to review all our payments, both business and income support, and determine the right payments for the right circumstances.”
But Mr. Frydenberg said the federal government’s $600 a week payment for pandemic disasters was faster than JobKeeper and better targeted at people who need it.
Café workers are out of work due to the lockdown that has closed restaurants
Josh Frydenberg has knocked down calls to bring JobKeeper back as Sydney faces another lockdown extension. Pictured: A Coles employee
“Payments are made in about 40 minutes,” he said.
“They’re also targeted because they’re based on the number of hours lost rather than the decline in revenue of the company you work for.
“In addition, the net has been thrown wider, with all casuals eligible for these payments,” he said.
The payments of $600 a week for people who lose more than 20 hours and $375 for people who lose 8-20 hours will continue as long as the lockdowns last, the government has said.
Mr Fyrdenberg said JobKeeper was a national scheme set up in early 2020, when the unemployment rate was expected to rise to 15 percent.
It forced companies to take out loans from banks, pay their employees and be repaid by the government weeks later.
The disaster pandemic payout, on the other hand, goes straight to the workers’ bank accounts.
On top of that payment, there is business financial support worth up to 40 percent of a company’s payroll, which requires companies to maintain their workforce.
Perrottet wants JobKeeper back because it binds employees to their company.
“If the number of cases escalates or remains persistent, additional funding from the federal government will be needed,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday.
‘We believe that Jobkeeper played an important role in maintaining the bond between employees and companies. This won’t last forever, but we do need it now, because if NSW is going well, the country is going well too.’
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet wants JobKeeper back because it binds employees to their company. Pictured: A Sydney barista during lockdown
Morrison said he is open to further support if the situation worsens.
The government is “very open to thinking about how we deal with the situation as it develops,” he said.
Australia’s largest union, the ACTU, wants immediate cash grants for small businesses and says current aid measures are “confusing, inadequate and often administratively burdensome.”
It rejected the disaster payments that were dismissed as ‘grossly inadequate’
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the government should add casuals to JobKeeper, a “tried system.”
“The current disaster benefit is less than the minimum wage and less than what workers received during the lockdowns in 2020,” she said.
How to claim the $600 lockdown payment if you lose your job?
Australians who lose more than 20 hours of work per week can claim a disaster benefit of $600 from the federal government, and those who lose less than 20 hours can claim $375.
To claim the money you will need an online Centrelink account linked to your myGov. It’s easy to set these up.
After logging in, you will be asked some questions about your situation to see if you qualify.
Officials need to know if you’ve lived or worked in a Covid-19 hotspot that has been shut down or has restricted movement.
Once you have submitted your claim, hit submit and the officials will process it for you.
No need to call them, they will text you when you have successfully submitted your claim.
If you qualify, officials will make a payment to your bank account and send you a letter with the details.
For more information click on here