JobKeeper wage subsidies will fall from $1,500 to $1,200 for full-time workers after the Australian Senate passed the extension on Tuesday.
The JobKeeper extension will see the payments continue for another six months, albeit at a lower rate.
Under the new JobKeeper, workers who worked less than 20 hours a week will receive $750 in wage subsidies per fortnight, while those who work 20 or more hours will receive $1,200 as of 28 September. That $1,200 sum represents around 80 per cent of the minimum wage.
Then, from 4 January, the larger payment will slide to $1,000 a fortnight and the smaller to $650.
"We are now extending and transitioning," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.
"Transitioning and looking to a day when Australian communities don't need JobKeeper and when Australians can then run their businesses and hold their jobs sustained by a vibrant and growing economy instead."
More businesses and workers will be eligible for the scheme under new rules. Businesses that can show a 30 per cent fall in turnover compared to the same quarter in 2019 will now be eligible.
Additionally, employees who joined a business up to 1 July will now be eligible. Previously, workers had to have been on the books as of 1 March to receive the subsidy.
Announcing these planned changes in August, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that around 530,000 Victorians will need the subsidy in the September quarter.
Independent senator Rex Patrick attempted to add an amendment forcing businesses that have paid out bonuses or dividends to pay back the wage subsidy.
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh this week also made similar claims. He said many large Australian companies were receiving the subsidies and funnelling them into executive bonuses and pointed the finger at Star Casino and IDP Education.
JobKeeper was designed to reduce inequality. But some firms are using taxpayer money to pay massive executive bonuses. In 90 seconds, I listed the worst offenders https://t.co/zbWfA7eiD6 #auspol #ausecon @OMgovernance pic.twitter.com/5l7ApALJtr— Andrew Leigh (@ALeighMP) August 31, 2020
Labor also failed to get its “safety net” amendment across the line. Under this amendment, workers who had received JobKeeper but whose employers were not eligible for the next iteration, would still earn at least $1,200 per fortnight.
More than 3.5 million workers and 996,388 businesses have so far received the subsidy, however ANU research released on Saturday flagged that the changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker in September have the power to send 740,000 Australians below the poverty line.
“While the September reduction in JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments are still much more generous than what was offered prior to Covid-19 we do estimate that the number of persons in poverty will increase by 740,000 persons compared to the more generous June policy,” the researchers said.
The successful passage comes ahead of Wednesday’s national accounts figures, expected to confirm Australia’s first recession in nearly three decades.
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