The government is reportedly seeking to close a major JobKeeper loophole, which saw casual workers reap more money through the $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy scheme than their original wages.
A review of the scheme, spearheaded by the head of the Australian Treasury Regulatory Reform Taskforce, Mark Cully, has allegedly sought advice on how to find out how many workers are receiving more cash through the scheme, according to News.com.au.
Employers have argued casuals who would otherwise earn less than $1,500 per fortnight were being unfairly overpaid under the scheme, with some casuals reportedly refusing to attend work while still reaping the JobKeeper benefits.
The news follows the government’s $60 billion error in its JobKeeper cost estimate, with the scheme predicted to not set the government back $70 billion, rather than the $130 billion initially touted.
In the wake of the error, industry bodies called on the government to put the $60 billion towards allowing more casuals and visa workers to be included in the scope of the scheme.
“Instead of cutting JobKeeper, why not expand it to all the casuals and people on temporary visas who need it? The funds are literally all there,” said GetUp’s national director Paul Oosting.
“Jobkeeper was proof that the money for social spending was always there, there’s no justification to cut these vital funds that are keeping food on the table for families across the country.”
Addressing the error on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the JobKeeper scheme could be extended, but only in specific ways: “We will continue to target our support and it will become more targeted as time goes on.”
“There are many challenges that the economy will face beyond September,” he said.
“We know that and there are particular sectors that will feel this for longer, particularly those who are particularly dependent on international borders. We understand that and we’ll be considering that carefully.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg flagged one area in need of ‘targeted support’ was the tourism sector.
"The tourism sector could be one sector in need of further support," Frydenberg told the ABC.
"That's what we'll look at in the context of the economic situation at the time."