VTIC chief executive officer Felicia Mariani.

$130 billion wage subsidy package announced

March 31, 2020 BY

EMPLOYERS will be paid $1,500 a fortnight per worker for the next six months to keep them on the books as part of the federal government’s enormous $130 billion wage subsidy package in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Announced by the Prime Minister on Monday this week and effective immediately, all employees working for eligible companies (those with revenue falls of more than 30 per cent or 50 per cent for businesses with turnovers of more than $1 billion) will qualify for the JobKeeper subsidy, to be paid through the tax system.

This includes not only full-time and part-time workers but sole traders and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more.

The flat wage subsidy will extend to all employees who were on the books as of March 1 this year.

Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said Australia was facing a war on two fronts – a health crisis and an economic crisis.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”

Victorian Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Felicia Mariani said the JobKeeper payments were “just what industry has been waiting for”.

“The fact that this package recognises employees on the books dating back to March 1 is a huge benefit and means many employers are in the position to potentially rehire staff they had to separate from the business in recent weeks.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus said the ACTU was examining the details of the package, but the subsidy should be scaled up to the median wage of $1,375 a week.

“The union movement has worked doggedly to make sure this government understands the grave situation Australian workers find themselves in. Less than three weeks ago, the Morrison Government wouldn’t consider the notion of a wage subsidy.”

For updates on the JobKeeper package, head to ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment.

On Sunday, the federal government also unveiled a separate $1.1 billion package. This includes $669 million to expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth services, $150 million in domestic violence support, $74 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians, and $200 million to support charities and other community organisations that provide emergency and food relief.