JobKeeper Is Officially Rolling Back Today, Despite New COVID Outbreaks And No Vaccine

The reduction of the subsidy is yet another example of the government prioritising the economy over the well-being of its people.


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1.6-million Australians face a pay cut of up to $100 a week today, as the federal government’s employee wage subsidy, JobKeeper, is wound back.

It comes at a time when the country is in the grip of several new COVID-19 outbreaks. Recently, outbreaks in Greater Sydney caused Premier Gladys Beriliklyan to introduce mandatory mask-wearing and the closure nightclubs. The outbreaks have already caused border closures between NSW and Victoria, and tighter restrictions at the Queensland border.

It’s clear that job stability is still at risk for many, yet the Morrison government is steaming ahead, entering JobKeeper into its final phase today ahead of its scheduled conclusion at the end of March.

From today, eligible businesses will receive $500 a week for each employee working at least 20 hours per week, down from $600. Other eligible staff will attract a payment of $325 per week, down from $375.

While the cut may not sound like a lot to some people, cutting JobKeeper will potentially lead to the cutting of employee hours — and during the pandemic, workable hours have already been reduced. The financial aid JobKeeper provided employer’s with allowed them to maintain stable hours for their staff, but a cutback in the subsidy can negatively impact the amount of hours employees can work, leading to a significant loss of income in uncertain times.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said that JobKeeper should eventually be phased out, but that it would hurt the economy to do it now while businesses are still grappling with COVID restrictions.

“The withdrawal of support when we’re still very much dealing with the economic impact of this crisis is premature,” he said.

The JobKeepr payment was established at the start of the pandemic to encourage affected business to keep staff employed, and it’s estimated that the payment saved at least 700,000 jobs, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.

With only 90 days remaining until JobKeeper is scrapped completely, Australian employees face the prospect of increasingly insecure work in a time when the virus is rearing its head again. The reduction of the subsidy is yet another example of the government prioritising the economy over the well-being of its people.

Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast, GayV Club where she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.