Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a new temporary COVID disaster payment which will provide financial support for areas defined as COVID-19 national hotspots and are undergoing lockdown for more than seven days.
Workers who are unable to work because of lockdown restrictions will be eligible for $500 a week if they normally work more than 20 hours each week, and those who work less than 20 hours receive $325 weekly until restrictions ease.
Eligible workers will include Australian citizens, residents and visa holders who are permitted to work in Australia, and aged 17 and older.
The new payment will be delivered through Services Australia, with applications to open to affected Victorians on Monday, said Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud.
The payment would become available from the date an area — whether a single postcode, a metropolis (like Melbourne) or even an entire state — has been determined a Commonwealth hotspot, and cease as soon as restrictions are lifted.
To be eligible for the payment, workers aren’t expected to use annual leave entitlements, but must have exhausted all other leave entitlements available to them. Eligible applicants must also have liquid assets of less than $10,000.
“Where those who have independent means of supporting themselves for a week, then I think they would agree, that reaching out for Commonwealth taxpayer-funded assistance is not something they would consider reasonable for such a short period of time,” Mr Morrison said.
“The person must not be receiving an income support payment or pandemic payment. If you are already receiving support from the social security system on JobSeeker, where we have relaxed the rules around JobSeeker, you’re getting your support through that channel.”
Mr Morrison said his government has yet to determine the cost of the payment, or how it will be paid for, though he signalled he would be turning to the states affected to split the costs “50–50”.
“Presently, the Victorian government is doing that directly and 100 per cent with the business support they are providing,” Mr Morrison said.
“What I put to the acting Premier last night was that we should split 50–50 both payments. Go 50–50 on household and 50–50 on business.
“Alternatively, the states can agree that, in these circumstances, they will always provide the business support and we will always provide the household support. Either way, we will work it out, and in the national cabinet tomorrow, we will have a good discussion about it.”
More to come.
John Buckley is a journalist at Accountants Daily.
Before joining the team in 2021, John worked at The Sydney Morning Herald. His reporting has featured in a range of outlets including The Washington Post, The Age, and The Saturday Paper.