Speaking on ABC radio, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the government expects a majority of Victoria’s 975,000 employees who are already on JobKeeper to continue to receive the government’s wage subsidy post-September.
Questioned about the tougher eligibility test, to be imposed on businesses from 28 September, Mr Frydenberg conceded that the criteria were based on the assumption that Victoria would emerge from lockdown from the middle of August.
“In terms of the JobKeeper payment and that 975,000 people, they’re people and businesses that have seen their turnovers expected to be down both in the June and September quarters,” the Treasurer said.
“But there may be some businesses that didn’t have turnover that was down in the June quarter — so, for example, in May they had strong retail sales, but obviously now we’re in August and over the course of July these businesses have been badly hit.
“So, we’re looking at the eligibility question for those because we don’t want businesses that have been really badly hit through the September period but maybe not have met the 30 per cent threshold in the June period, we want to make sure we can get support to them as well.”
Asked whether this approach will be adopted nationwide, Mr Frydenberg said he thinks “that will continue to be the case”.
He said: “It’s a demand-driven program, but the situation in Victoria is very acute.
“Ninety-eight per cent of new cases yesterday were in Victoria, the second wave is occurring in Victoria whereas many other parts of the country are opening up, people are getting back to work, and we saw that in the ABS jobs data for the month of June.”
He also hinted the federal government may offer further support, in the shape of cash grants for sectors such as retail and hospitality, but said the state government will need to share the load.
To date, the JobKeeper program and the cash-flow boost have together injected some $14 billion into the Victorian economy, with JobKeeper expected to contribute a further $100 million a day until the end of September.