With Victoria hit hard by the second wave of COVID-19, the imposition of Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne Metro had become inevitable. Victorian economy is choking to death has forced JobKeeper program expansion.
And to make things a lot worse for both the state and federal governments, the lifeless Victorian economy has – consequences for the whole country.
Things are pretty fluid. Each day is a new day and feels like back to drawing boards with new numbers every day. Thus when Premier Andrews announced warehouse closures of 67%, affected food supply chains – nationally immediately warranted a ‘rethink’ to ensure the nation does not face essential food shortages. And the Premier did.
Similarly, the second Victorian lockdown has forced the federal government to massively strengthen the JobKeeper program by significantly expanding eligibility criteria and allocating an extra $15 billion to the scheme.
In an unexpected move the government will, according to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison do “whatever it takes to save lives and save livelihoods”.
The new changes worth $15 billion, will be applied nationwide. 740,000 more Australians will become eligible for the JobKeeper payment, of which more than 500,000 are estimated to be Victorians.
The second wave and resultant lockdown in Victoria is estimated to slash up to $12 billion from the national GDP, making JobKeeper expansion critical.
What is changing?
Not June & September – Only September Quarter now
Earlier, a business that wanted to access JobKeeper for its employees would have been asked to show significant falls in turnover in both the June and September quarters. Now, the businesses have to show only September quarter figures.
Also, those employed on July 1, 2020 are eligible to apply. The date previously was 1 March, 2020.
Treasury estimates with these changes and expanded eligibility, approximately 1.5 million Victorians would get JobKeeper in the September quarter.
“The introduction of Stage 4 restrictions by the Victorian government will have a severe economic impact on the Victorian and Australian economy,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Under the changes that will apply nationwide, to be eligible for JobKeeper post-September 28, organisations will only have to demonstrate that their actual turnovers have significantly declined in the previous quarter.
“They will no longer be required to have also suffered a significant decline in the June quarter in order to remain eligible or access the payment for the first time post 28 September.
“As we have said all along, we will continue to do what is necessary to cushion the blow and help Australians get to the other side.”
The revised new rates of payment announced earlier will be maintained. Thus even after JobKeeper expansion, rate of payment will remain at $1500 per fortnight per worker until the end of September, drop to $1200 for October to December period and then $1000 for the period between January 2021 and March 2021.
For people working less than 20 hours a week, the current rate of $1500 will drop to $750 for October to December and further drop to $650 for January to March 2021 period.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s COVID situation “is constantly changing”, necessitating constant adjustments.
“Our response is to get the right support to all those Australian families, workers and businesses that need us, as these circumstances change,” he said.
“This means more support for more workers and more businesses for longer, as we battle this latest Victorian wave.”