Asked whether the Treasury will truncate or alter the program before its official expiry date in September, the Prime Minister told media on Monday: “We’ve still got a long way to go.”
Speaking to media in Canberra, PM Scott Morrison stressed that the virus has not been beaten.
He explained that the government will act based on “advice and the strength of the economy and how many people we’re getting back into jobs”, suggesting that the program could be tweaked to better support certain sectors.
“We’re six weeks into a six-month program and at this stage, the uncertainties about the global economy, let alone our own economy, are still very much there. And it would be very premature, I think, to get into speculations,” Mr Morrison said.
“What people know is there is six months of an economic lifeline to the value of $130 billion and that says to Australians that we will be there for you and we will be there for you to get Australians back into work.
“The thing that matters is getting Australians back into work. The thing that matters is getting Australian businesses back open, because when that happens, there will be no need for those levels of income support.”
He explained that Australia is only just starting to reopen its economy and that it will take “some time” to get it back to a point where it can start supporting Australians again.
“We are not fully certain about what the implications of all of that will be. And that’s why we have to remain on our guard,” Mr Morrison said.
He cautioned that the “virus is still out there”, meaning that the economy is still very much vulnerable.
“The virus is still out there. It hasn’t gone anywhere. It is still out there. There may be only 700 or so active cases in Australia now, but Australia is still very much at risk.”
Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, the Treasurer revealed that 835,000 businesses have formally enrolled in the JobKeeper scheme, covering around 5.5 million employees.
This is up from 728,640 the Treasurer reported last week, at which point sole traders made up 40 per cent of all enrolments.
Speaking on the MyBusiness JobKeeper webcast last Tuesday, Deputy Commissioner from the ATO Deborah Jenkins advised businesses that the sooner they do check out their eligibility and enrol, the sooner they will receive the funds.
“The sooner they do get onto step two in the system, the sooner that we will be able to get those payments out the door,” Ms Jenkins said.
The ATO confirmed last Wednesday that payments have begun reaching bank accounts from Tuesday night, with the vast majority to be made within days of the ATO receiving a completed application.
Employers who are claiming for the first two JobKeeper fortnights will need to ensure they provide an employee nomination notice to each employee by 8 May, in line with the latest legislative amendments which clarify the “one in, all in” feature.
For more insights into all things JobKeeper, tune into our webcast with Deborah Jenkins, ATO Deputy Commissioner; Kate Carnell, the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman; and Sam Allert, the CEO of Reckon.