Finance Work Further changes likely to JobKeeper subsidy – Treasurer

Further changes likely to JobKeeper subsidy – Treasurer

jobkeeper review josh frydenberg
Further changes are likely to the JobKeeper wages subsidy within weeks, Josh Frydenberg says. Photo: AAP
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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has signalled further changes to the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme will likely be made in July after a review.

Speculation is mounting the Morrison government will cut more sectors from JobKeeper after announcing childcare workers would be removed on July 20.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week the coronavirus wages subsidy would remain until September – days before Sunday’s childcare announcement. Federal government ministers have refused to rule out further changes to eligibility for particular industries or workers.

Mr Frydenberg will announce the findings of Treasury’s review of wage subsidies on July 23, alongside a financial update for the national economy.

“It is in place, legislated to September. We will be looking to see how to strengthen and improve that program,” he said on Tuesday.

Mr Frydenberg pointed to Treasury’s forecast that 850,000 people could return to work when stage three of eased coronavirus restrictions is rolled out in July.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles took aim at the government for removing childcare staff from JobKeeper.

“That’s a complete breach of faith,” he told Sky News.

Childcare workers will receive transitional payments, which the government argues are only slightly less than wage subsidies.

Treasury and the tax office’s bungled JobKeeper prediction were in sharp focus at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Treasury boss Steven Kennedy and Australian Taxation Office commissioner Chris Jordan all faced the coronavirus response committee.

The Morrison government originally predicted the $1500 fortnightly payments would cost $130 billion and cover more than six million workers.

But it was later revealed three million fewer employees were part of the scheme, forcing the projection to be revised down to $70 billion.

The ATO and Treasury blamed the massive miscalculation on businesses making errors on JobKeeper application forms.

Coronavirus cases have remained low across Australia, with new infections in single digits again on Monday.

Victoria and Queensland had no cases to report. NSW had two, both in travellers in hotel quarantine.

There have been 102 coronavirus deaths in Australia, with fewer than 460 active cases of the disease nationally.

GPs are calling for a place on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, alongside national and state chief health officers.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Harry Nespolon said the move would ease concerns about testing criteria information and personal protective equipment.

“Having an RACGP representative on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee would make a significant difference,” Dr Nespolon said in a submission to the coronavirus Senate committee.

“GPs should also be provided with information such as government modelling and local epidemiological data.”