All Australians could potentially have access to the $1,500 “disaster payment” available to Victorians, after the Prime Minister revealed it was not out of the question for other states.
The fortnightly payment was unveiled on Monday, but at the time Scott Morrison said it was only available to Victorian workers.
“This is a disaster payment,” he said.
“If another state were to be in a position – and God forbid they were – that there was a disaster of the scale that we're seeing in Victoria, then a disaster payment of this nature would be entered into, but that would be done on the same basis of what will be established with Victoria.”
But now Morrison has confirmed if other states wanted to offer the sick leave substitute, they could.
"If other states or territories want to enter into a similar arrangement, then I'll be making that offer to the states and territories if they wish to do that," he told Seven’s Sunrise program on Wednesday.
"Of course, they are not facing the same level of challenge. The health advice we had out of Victoria was to do this."
Morrison’s comments follow pressure from unions and businesses outside of Victoria for the Government to extend leave payments to the entire nation.
It also comes amid criticism from unions that the payment would “leave holes” in Australia’s defences against the spread of the virus.
"It's actually set at the rate of pretty close to the minimum wage, which is less than half the average wage," ACTU president Michele O'Neil told Seven on Tuesday.
"We want to make sure it works like sick leave. If you need to stop work and isolate you should get your normal pay and the government should reimburse businesses that can't afford to pay that."
Currently, under a federal-state agreement, the Commonwealth is footing the bill for the fortnightly payments of Australian citizens, and the state is paying for short-term visa holders.
There is no legislated end-date either, with the payment set to remain in place for as long as is necessary.
“We anticipate that this payment will be needed for some time, and it will be made available for as long as it's necessary.”
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