Thousands of businesses in limbo as JobKeeper uncertainty fuels concern

Hundreds of thousands of Victorian businesses are struggling to plan their futures, as the federal government remains tight-lipped about what will happen to the JobKeeper program.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has demanded Prime Minister Scott Morrison immediately outline plans for the future of JobKeeper, instead of waiting for the July 23 mini-budget.

With the current iteration of the wage subsidy due to end just weeks after Melbourne emerges from a new six-week lockdown, Victorians are concerned about how businesses will be supported, Mr Albanese said.

JobKeeper, the fortnightly wage top-up which provides up to $1500 per eligible employee, is due to wind up at the end of September.

Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers and leader Anthony Albanese want answers faster

“Australians need to know now what Scott Morrison intends to do when JobKeeper ends in two months,” Mr Albanese said.

“Mr Morrison has already excluded more than a million Australians from JobKeeper. He must not make things even worse for Australian families and businesses by withdrawing support too soon.”

In Victoria, where new lockdowns are forcing Melbournians to wind back their services or cease operating altogether, Labor said up to 245,000 businesses are receiving JobKeeper.

The data reveals the electorate of Melbourne, held by Greens MP Adam Bandt, could have the second-highest number of businesses supported by JobKeeper with up to 17,123 receiving the supplement.

The neighbouring electorate of Macnamara, held by Labor MP Josh Burns, is third on the list with 11,183 eligible for the payment.

Former Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek’s electorate of Sydney has the highest number of JobKeeper-eligible firms, with 21,139.

Labor’s estimates are based on a collection of Treasury figures and answers to questions on notice.

The PM on Wednesday committed to “a further phase of support that goes beyond September” but declined to outline further details.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said specifics would be outlined in the July 23 economic update.

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg said more will be revealed on July 23

Shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said the government’s review into JobKeeper should be shared publicly now, to get a better idea of numbers of who is using – and who may be losing – JobKeeper.

Mr Frydenberg hinted the next stage of income support would likely be smaller than the mammoth $70 billion JobKeeper, telling the ABC on Wednesday “it will be targeted, it will be temporary, it will be designed to get help to people who need it most.”

Labor has long called for the wage subsidy to be extended to more workers, and said the next phase should be more laser-focused on sectors and businesses that still need help.

Topics: Jobkeeper
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