PM announces $130 billion job keeper plan to keep businesses alive

PM announces $130 billion job keeper plan to keep businesses alive

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $130 billion stimulus package to partially pay the salaries of workers around the nation for the next six months.

The JobKeeper Coronavirus Supplement will see the Government pay Australian employers $1,500 per fortnight - around 70 per cent of the median wage - per employee.

"We will pay employers to pay employees, and we will make sure they do," he said, explaining the package would likely apply to around six million people.

"This is an incentive for businesses to adapt to these circumstances, to keep people on the books."

Payments - which will be at a flat rate - will start reaching Australian wallets in the first week of May and be backdated to today's date (30 March) for wages on the books since 1 March.

Workers who have been stood down since 1 March are still eligible for the supplement.

"Stood down employees should ring their employer and ask whether they are taking part in the JobKeeper scheme," he said.

To be eligible, business revenue needs to have fallen by 30 per cent or more, or 50 per cent in the case of companies with turnovers above $1 billion.

The Supplement is being delivered via the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which has the mechanisms available to follow up on employers.

Morrison says the package is an "economic lifeline" that businesses will need in the months ahead and survive the Covid-19 financial crisis, but notes payments will not include superannuation levies.

"Some will say it's too little, other will say that it's too much. I say we must work together to make this work and to make it go as far as possible," says Morrison.

"We want to keep the engine of the economy running through this crisis.

"In the worst circumstances we may see countries fall into chaos - that will not be Australia."

The $130 billion represents 6.9 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, adding to existing fiscal stimulus packages and quantitative easing worth around 10 per cent of GDP.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the wage subsidy scheme is unlike those announced by other nations.

"It's more generous than New Zealand's scheme, it's broader than the United Kingdom's scheme, as it applies to all employees - not just those that have been stood down - and it's available to all eligible firms, not just small businesses, as is the case with the Canadian scheme."

Retail mogul Solomon Lew, who chairs Premier Investments, applauded the Prime Minister and the Treasurer for their announcement this afternoon.

"This will give employers like Premier a greater ability to retain team members during the COVID-19 crisis," said Lew, whose company is known for brands such as Jay Jays, Just Jeans, Portmans, Jacqui E, Peter Alexander, Dotti, and Smiggle.

"Premier's 9,000 staff have been stood down due to necessary store closures associated with social distancing and health measures mandated by the Prime Minister, the State Premiers and Chief Medical Officers.

"Premier's employees will now be able to access the Job Keeper subsidy in addition to the special arrangements we have put in place for them to access accrued annual and long service leave entitlements to reduce the financial impact over this time."

Lew added the National Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, is doing and should continue to do all it can to help Australia survive this crisis.

"We all have a role to play and it's time for everyone to step up and play their part," he said.

"The ability to retain team members during this challenging time will give businesses the best possible opportunity to bounce back and thrive.

"Premier remains focused on the health and safety of its employees, its customers and the broader community and the company is committed to doing everything it can to stop the spread of Covid-19."

Updated at 4:19PM AEDT on 30 March 2020.

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