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Gold Coast theme parks call for JobKeeper payment extension

The head of some of the Gold Coast biggest tourist attractions has called on the Federal Government to extend the $130 billion JobKeeper package beyond September.

JobKeeper payments for those eligible are due to expire on September 27, but theme parks are calling on an extension to the relief package to help them stay afloat and hold on to staff.

Currently, all theme parks are closed, but will be allowed to reopen from June 12 but only for up to 20 people unless they have an approved COVID-19 ‘safe plan’.

Village Roadshow CEO Clark Kirby, who is responsible for Sea World, Movie World and Wet ‘n’ Wild theme parks, said the lack of clarity on a timeline for an end to restrictions is leaving the parks and their staff in limbo.

“My number one priority is keeping team members on the books so we can get back to business as soon as possible,” he told The Courier Mail. “JobKeeper allows us to do that. That’s why it’s crucial that this policy is extended until the Federal Government can give us certainty.

“We need thousands of workers, many with unique skill sets to open our doors every day. It’s important that we retain these team members.”

However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg insisted the JobKeeper payments will still end in September.

“Rebuilding consumer and business confidence will be key as the nation’s finances can only be sustained by a strong and growing market-led economy,” Frydenberg said.

“Australians know there is no money tree. What we borrow today, we must pay back in the future.”

There is also speculation the Federal Government is looking to wind the program down earlier than anticipated depending on unemployment figures.

“We’ve put the commitment in to support Australians over that period of time,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“And as we need to adjust based on advice and the strength of the economy and how many people we’re getting back into jobs. Well, these are the things we’ll be watching carefully.”