- The Morrison government is now considering how it will use the $60 billion saving it has discovered within its JobKeeper program.
- The Prime Minister has rejected using the money to extend wage subsidies to short-tem casual and visa workers, but flagged some business sectors may see extra support measures funded with the money.
- Specifically, he and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have suggested tourism, media and arts, and housing construction could be recipients, as well as tourism-dependent areas like North Queensland.
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Having discovered an accounting error $60 billion in its favour, the Morrison government is ready to go spending.
While emphasising the windfall won’t just be blown for the sake of it, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said some of it will fund support programs targeted at some of the country’s worst-hit sectors.
“When it comes to JobKeeper, we’ll be undertaking a review in the month of June, Michael, and we’ll look at how it’s been implemented, what’s happening in various sectors,” Frydenberg told ABC presenter Michael Rowland on Monday orning.
“The tourism sector could be one sector in need of further support. That’s what we’ll look at in the context of the economic situation at the time.”
Suggesting international borders will remain “closed for some time”, the sector looks to be top of a list that could quickly be expanded to others.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison again rejected calls for casual and visa workers to be absorbed into the program, and instead named a few business sectors of his own that could welcome government money.
“It’s not free money. It’s not money that’s just sitting somewhere that can be spent,” he told media on Sunday, stating the government wasn’t looking to borrow more to fund the existing JobKeeper program.
“I won’t put an additional burden on Australian taxpayers any more than is absolutely necessary.”
However, Morrison left the door ajar to more spending in sectors where it could prove “a game-changer”.
“There are particular sectors that will feel this for longer,” he said.
That could see further spending in tourism, as well as the media and creative arts, housing construction and tourism-dependent areas like North Queensland, the PM indicated.
What relief that exactly entails remains to be seen although in the case of tourism it’s thought the sector will lobby for JobKeeper to be extended beyond the program’s September cutoff date with visitor numbers to take longer to revive.
Indeed, that money could be used to prolong the life of JobKeeper in its entirety or to taper it off gradually so as to avoid an economic shock later this year when employers suddenly see their wage bill spike.
In way of construction, the government and economists fear a residential building slowdown could lead to shortages that might see affordability again hampered. The federal government may then look to stimulate construction through a new housing scheme to discount new home costs.
With a review due next month, there won’t be any shortage of industries coming forward to put their hand out for a piece of the pie.
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