New South Wales state treasurer Dominic Perrottet called on the Morrison government on Sunday to reintroduce JobKeeper as the state faces renewed pressures in the face of sustained lockdown restrictions, from which the state isn’t expected to emerge for weeks to come.
“People are in danger of slipping through the cracks particularly those on income support that don’t qualify for the current disaster payments,” Mr Perrottet said.
“As case numbers escalate or remain stubborn, there will need to be extra financial support from the federal government. We believe that JobKeeper was instrumental in keeping the nexus between workers and businesses.
“This won’t be forever, but we do need it now because when NSW goes well, the country goes well.”
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has cautioned against the return of the $93 billion wage subsidy, even in the face of the extremely contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, which he said on Sunday has given rise to a need to “undertake prudent contingency planning for a range of scenarios that arise in the weeks and months ahead”.
Mr Frydenberg’s firm opposition of the wage subsidy’s return was backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who last week insisted that there was no time to implement a system to deliver emergency payments to individuals who need it now.
Despite 13 million Australians — more than half of the country’s population — now in lockdown, Mr Morrison is standing firm on his decision not to return to JobKeeper as pressure mounts from local and state government leaders.
“I’m not trying to solve last year’s problem,” said Mr Morrison on Wednesday. “I’m trying to solve the issues and provide economic supports directly to individuals fast.
“You’ll recall that, when we put JobKeeper in place, it took four to six weeks in order for the system to be rolled out, for businesses to go to their banks to get the loans for their cash flow, to then actually make the payments to those who are working with them, and to work through that process.”
Calls to reinstate JobKeeper come as Greater Sydney enters its fifth week of lockdown, with the state bracing for a further extension as case numbers remain high.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to make the call early this week and has reassured Sydneysiders that she is pushing the federal government for further financial support for both individuals and businesses.
“We are having conversations with the federal government on an ongoing basis, let me assure you of that,” she said.
John Buckley is a journalist at Accountants Daily.
Before joining the team in 2021, John worked at The Sydney Morning Herald. His reporting has featured in a range of outlets including The Washington Post, The Age, and The Saturday Paper.