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Should we bank or spend $60 million JobKeeper savings?

by Nydia Michel (2020-05-27)

Liberal MPs, the opposition, employer groups, and the unions are already squabbling about what to do with $60 billion in savings from JobKeeper.

Kestrel @ lunch: 3. Main courseAn embarrassing clerical error saw the amount needed for the scheme slashed from $130 billion to $70 billion on Friday.

The Federal Government estimated 6.5 million Australians would be receiving the $750-a-week payments based on forms filled out by eligible businesses. 

But 1,000 companies incorrectly reported the number of their employees by accident, meaning the figure was more like 3.5 million.

 JobKeeper was brought in to prevent Centrelink lines like this getting any longer. Now with more money available there are arguments about whether it should be expanded

The government is now divided over whether to use the cash to expand the program to help more workers, or simply not spend it.

Workers in universities and state-owned businesses are not eligible under the scheme's rules, and neither are most casual staff.

Labor is already moving to build support in the Senate to cut these exceptions out of the spending bill.





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Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is demanding the government reveal how much it would cost to include these workers in JobKeeper.

'If they can't manage a program like JobKeeper to the tune of a mistake of $60 billion… then there has got to be a great question mark over how they'll manage the economic recovery,' he said. 

Some crossbench MPs have their own ideas, like One Nation leader Pauline Hanson who wants some of the cash spent on infrastructure projects in her home state of Queensland.

Cafes and restaurants are now allowed to open, cracked software but customer limits mean many haven't brought most of their staff back. Five Docks Dining in Sydney resorted to using cardboard cutouts to make the cafe feel less empty

Another suggestion is to use it to extend the JobKeeper program beyond the September cut off for tourism operators.

Unlike the rest of the economy, which will by then be functioning at most of its capacity as Australia reopens, tourism will be hit hard for some time.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg flagged this problem in a speech to the Nation Press Club on May 5.