JobKeeper confusion leaves more questions than answers

As the hopes of eliminating Covid-19 in Australia diminish with each new hotspot erupting in Victoria and now NSW, government talk around Jobkeeper is also becoming increasingly hard to pin down.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week that a “further phase” of income support would come into play after JobKeeper expires on September 27. But that has been contradicted by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who told Sky News that any income support after October will not be a “replication” of what came before.

”JobKeeper in its current form was always designed to be in place for a six-month period,” Cormann said. “That comes to an end at the end of September. It is an unbelievably generous program.

“On the basis of assessed need, there will be continued support moving forward, but JobKeeper in its current form will come to an end at the end of September.”

The government is concerned about the “fiscal burden” of the $70 billion-wage-subsidy program, but its plans have been thrown a curve ball by the new wave of restrictions in Victoria which will impact businesses that are already facing ruin.

Other reports indicate that JobKeeper will be extended past September, but with the caveat that if a business is forced to let their employees go, they will be required to foot the bill of the owed leave and entitlements.

Council of Small Business Organisations Australia chief executive Peter Strong said the scheme had been effective as it “meant keeping more people on”.

“But many are accruing a debt that they can’t pay because they haven’t got the income coming in,” he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will hand down changes to JobKeeper on July 23, alongside an economic update.