Australia

Morrison not budging on JobKeeper review

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted pressure to reveal the future of wage subsidies and the dole before a looming by-election.

Labor has accused the government of sitting on the findings of Treasury’s review of JobKeeper and JobSeeker until after Saturday’s Eden-Monaro polls.

But Mr Morrison insists the scale of government spending means careful decisions need to be made about coronavirus support beyond September.

“When you’re going through more than $10 billion a month, you don’t rush those decisions, you make them carefully,” Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.

“These are not linear and simple things that we’re seeking to resolve at this point.”

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said Treasury data showed an estimated 18,000 workers across the southeast NSW electorate were relying on JobKeeper.

“There are too many businesses and too many workers being held hostage to the uncertainty that Scott Morrison is creating by not coming clean on his secret plan,” he said.

“Every day he delays, more jobs are being shed because of the uncertainty around JobKeeper.”

Mr Morrison claimed he had always flagged the JobKeeper decision would be linked to the July 23 economic statement.

“That’s the plan. That’s the timetable. That’s what we set out and that’s what we’ll stick to,” he said.

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However, the government initially planned to make the statement in June following the release of March quarter national accounts.

The Eden-Monaro by-election date was announced on May 25.

On June 3, the government announced the economic update would be delayed until July to incorporate the JobKeeper review.

Mr Morrison has flagged extra support measures for sectors under ongoing pressure, such as aviation, tourism and entertainment.

The prime minister has also pointed to anecdotal evidence that employers are struggling to get workers to fill shifts because JobKeeper and JobSeeker rates are higher.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert said Mr Morrison was demonising unemployed people.

“The PM’s claims that the JobSeeker rate is discouraging people from working is a regression to old myths and tropes used to demonise people who are accessing income support,” she said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Tuesday showed 30 per cent of jobs initially shed have been recovered.

Total payroll jobs increased one per cent between mid-May and mid-June, but were still down 6.4 per cent on their level in mid-March before the lockdowns.

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