JobKeeper: The moment Liberal MPs want scheme to end

 

Liberal MPs are now urging the Prime Minister to "turn off" the $1500 JobKeeper payment when all children return to school amid growing calls to redesign the scheme.

For the first time, a Liberal MP has broken ranks to publicly call for JobKeeper to be switched off before the September date stipulated in the legislation.

NSW Liberal MP Jason Falinski told news.com.au there were growing questions over whether the wage subsidy was justified.

"I think we should turn off JobKeeper as soon as possible. As soon as the schools are back then it should go," he said.

"It should probably be tied to the schools going back. That's a signal to businesses to get back to work."

Liberal MPs are urging the Prime Minister to ‘turn off’ JobKeeper once all students have returned to school. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Liberal MPs are urging the Prime Minister to ‘turn off’ JobKeeper once all students have returned to school. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today outlined a return to classroom learning for all students by June 9, with prep, grade 1, grade 2, and year 11 and 12 students to return on May 26.

But Mr Falinski cautioned any phase-out of JobKeeper needs to be carefully co-ordinated with the reopening of the economy.

"If some of the states don't want to reopen restaurants and bars that's obviously a problem," he said.

"But they should phase it out at the very least. You do have a clear road map out.

"If you don't need to spend the money, don't spend the money because we need down the track to get the economy back to 100 per cent."

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News.com.au revealed on Monday that Scott Morrison is considering changes to the JobKeeper scheme as Treasury officials review the operation of the current scheme.

The review could see the program redesigned to better target the spending but the PM insists it's "premature" to suggest employers could be cut off from the scheme before the September 27 end date.

The options for reform could include tightening eligibility for some workers, but extending JobKeeper for other industries hardest hit by the crisis.

JobKeeper is running at a significant underspend of over $20 billion after only five million workers signed up for the scheme.

The Morrison Government had originally budgeted for six million workers.

Meanwhile, even the Labor leader Anthony Albanese is now calling for JobKeeper to be overhauled.

Under the rules, casuals who have worked for an employer for less than 12 months are the biggest losers under the JobKeeper scheme and don't qualify for the payment.

But long-term casuals working just a few hours a week have scored a $1500 windfall.

Some are earning two or three times more than they previously did for doing nothing.

He wants the savings redirected at supporting the unlucky casuals who missed out on JobKeeper because of length of service.

"A mum with three kids who's worked in a casual job for 11 months, receives nothing," Mr Albanese said.

"Whereas a student, working half a dozen hours a week for pocket money, while they're at uni, who has been in that casual job for a while, for more than 12 months, potentially will be getting $750 a week when previously they earned $150.

"So, some of the design of the program has had flaws, like the design of superannuation, has left it open to the fraud that we've seen whereby people have had money taken from their accounts."

Mr Albanese said the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted was the struggle of thousands of Australians to find full-time, secure work.

Regardless of how the Morrison Government chooses to proceed, Mr Albanese urged the Prime Minister to phase out JobKeeper slowly.

"The idea of snapback, the idea that you're on one day, day zero, everything's in place, and then the very next day, it's all completely removed, is a very bold thing to do in terms of the economic shock that would cause," he said.

Samantha Maiden is news.com.au's national political editor | @samanthamaiden

Originally published as 'It should go': Calls to end JobKeeper


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