- The Australian government expects its JobKeeper program to cost $60 billion less than it anticipated.
- Now different advocates are calling on the program to be expanded to cover the groups that currently miss out on the wage subsidy.
- From casuals and temporary workers, to those specific sectors, these are the people the government is being urged to spend the money on.
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The federal government’s bottom line is suddenly $60 billion better off and there’s no shortage of suggestions on how to spend it.
Having accidentally overestimated the cost of its JobKeeper wage subsidy by $60 billion, the savings should now be deployed to help those the program has deliberately exempted, progressive political group GetUp says.
“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,” national director Paul Oosting said in a statement issued to Business Insider Australia.
“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.”
GetUp and others have repeatedly criticised the government over those groups it had left behind, including many casuals, all temporary workers. Instead, the wage subsidy has prioritised full-time, part-time and permanent resident workers.
GetUp has not been alone in advocating for those left out in the cold.
“Now the government has no excuse not to roll JobKeeper out to casuals and temporary workers, the arts, boost the [disability support pension], retain the rate of JobSeeker and fund nation-building planet-saving projects with a Jobs Guarantee,” Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt said in a tweet.
The unions have also begun advocating for greater sector specific support.
“Our members are telling us they are struggling to make ends meet with no prospect of going back to work for what could still be several months,” MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said in a statement.
“[Arts minister Paul] Fletcher must urgently make the case to the Treasurer to redefine eligibility for JobKeeper so some of the unspent $60 billion goes to workers in the arts and entertainment industries.”
With the revelation of the windfall only coming on Friday afternoon, the government has not yet indicated whether it will choose to spend or simply save the money.
If it does choose to splash the cash, it will have no shortage of ideas to consider.