Government unveils $130 billion subsidy to businesses to help keep workers employed

By Niko Iliakis ·

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced an initiative to help keep as many as 6 million Australians employed over the next six months. 

The $130 billion JobKeeper scheme will give businesses up to $1,500 per employee to be paid out to staff on a fortnightly basis. 

“We want to keep the engine of our economy running through this crisis. It may run on idle for a time, but it must continue to run,” said Morrison.

To qualify for the payments, businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion must have experienced a drop in revenue by at least 30% as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Businesses with larger annual turnovers will also be eligible, however they must have seen a drop in revenue of at least 50%.

Payments will commence May 1 but they will be backdated to March 30, meaning that any workers that lost their job in the interim can be rehired by their employer and receive the fortnightly payment.

“This is about keeping the connection between the employer and the employee and keeping people in their jobs even though the business they work for may go into hibernation and close down for six months,” said Morrison.

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the subsidy will go some way towards easing the widespread uncertainty currently plaguing the Australian workforce.

"This $1,500 payment is a flat payment and is the equivalent of around 70% of the median wage and represents about 100% of the median wage in those sectors most heavily impacted by the coronavirus like retail, like hospitality and tourism," he said.

Morrison also announced plans to relax the partner income test for Jobseeker payment applicants. Australians will now be able to access the payment - along with the accompanying coronavirus supplement - provided their partner’s income is less than $79,762.

All told, this latest round of support brings the total amount deployed to tackle the current crisis to a staggering $320 billion. For information on previous government efforts, read our stimulus package wrap-up.