The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has confirmed details of extended support for business and their employees will be detailed by the federal government within the next couple of days, as the state braces for a potentially drawn-out lockdown.
“I have been involved in very high-level discussions on an ongoing basis. The NSW government has done a lot of work in this regard and I hope to have something to announce within the next couple of days,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She hinted that this package, which murmurs suggest could be modelled on JobKeeper, would support businesses for “a longer period”.
Just last week, as the lockdown in NSW was extended, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that he had been approached by NSW with a request for JobKeeper to be reinstated, which he said was answered with a firm “no”.
“The Treasurer of New South Wales has written to me asking for the reinstatement of JobKeeper,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “We are not bringing back JobKeeper.
“That was an emergency support payment that we introduced at the height of the pandemic. We then extended it beyond the initial six months to 12 months.”
However, given the severity of the situation in Sydney, the federal government is believed to have reconsidered its approach, carving out extra funds to help protect both businesses and their employees.
Under an agreement struck earlier with state and territory leaders at national cabinet, it was decided that the states would provide business support in the event of a lockdown, while income support would be dependent on the Commonwealth.
As such, brought in following Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak in May, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment scheme was triggered in NSW by the recent lockdown, with eligible individuals offered $325 or $500 for lost work as a direct result of the lockdown.
With the federal government expected to increase individual support while also offering small businesses a potential lifeline, it has been confirmed that like all pandemic support, any new schemes will be available to all jurisdictions that find themselves in the same predicament.
The federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy ended at the end of March. But while the government has steadfastly rejected calls to extend it, new data from Business NSW has revealed that as many as one in five businesses only have enough cash flow to get them through the next month of operations, with an extended lockdown expected to see many businesses close down for good.