Peter Dutton has indicated the government is “flexible” on the issue of extending JobKeeker wage subsidies beyond their September expiry date.
The Home Affairs Minister confirmed the federal government had room to move in helping Australians recover from the crippling pandemic.
“I think we are flexible and we will look at the way in which we could help businesses and people get back to a normal way of life,” he told Nine on Friday.
“But there’s a way to go yet as we know.
“Ultimately that’s a decision for the PM and the treasurer.”
Mr Dutton’s sentiments come a day after Reserve Bank boss Philip Lowe told a Senate inquiry the JobKeeper scheme might need to be extended beyond September.
While Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was more reserved about extending the payment, he said industry-specific stimulus packages could help struggling parts of the economy through the post-COVID slump.
“We recognise that additional support will be needed for some sectors that are slower to recover,” Mr Frydenberg told Seven.
“It’s not just always about JobKeeper, it’s also about what other support packages and initiatives you can undertake in various sectors.”
The federal government originally budgeted $130 billion for the JobKeeper program, which provides workers $1500 a fortnight.
But they greatly overestimated the number of businesses that would sign up, meaning the scheme cost $60 billion less than expected.
Rather than expanding the payments to workers who missed out or extending the six-month program, the treasurer appears more intent on redirecting the unspent money to sector-specific initiatives.
Mr Frydenberg raised tourism and housing sectors as two probable targets.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe on Thursday warned a parliamentary committee that cutting off JobKeeper too soon could be a mistake.