The Prime Minister has dismissed speculation that the $130 billion JobKeeper program could be wound up early.
Around 5 million Australians are receiving the $1500 a fortnight wage subsidy despite the Government forecasting it would need to cover 6 million workers.
The program has been legislated to run until September 24 however there’s speculation it could end earlier, once a review is complete in June.
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But Scott Morrison says any talk of scrapping the subsidy before then is “premature.”
“We are six weeks in to a six month program. The impact of the virus, how it will impact on Australia in the months ahead, with a reopening economy, is very much a work in progress,” Mr Morrison said.
“That’s why we put this six month lifeline in place. What we need to ensure that we do is that whatever supports we have they they are targeted.”
The Opposition says with unemployment likely to remain high for some time, the program may actually need to be extended.
There are also fears more businesses will face collapse when deferred rent and loan payments will need to be paid in six months time.
“Unless you want people to suddenly be able to not pay their bills, unless you want people to suddenly vacate the premises where they live and handing back the keys to homes that they’ve mortgaged, then the Government is going to have to look at extending this,” Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke said.
“I certainly don’t believe the hard deadlines that are there right now are going to be able to continue.”
Mr Morrison says they will do whatever they need to do get people back on their feet.
“The thing that matters is getting Australians back into work. The thing that matters is getting Australian businesses back open because when that happens, there will be no need for those levels of income support.
“Success for our economy is when we’re able to get ourselves out of the situation which requires such enormous taxpayer support. And it’s not just today’s taxpayers, it’s tomorrow’s taxpayers.”
It comes as figures show the virus is likely to cost the Federal budget $360 billion over the next two years while unemployment is set to remain well above 5 per cent until the end of 2024.