COVID-19 assistance packages may be cut short

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hinted that COVID-19 assistance packages could be wound back sooner than originally planned at his press conference on Monday afternoon.

There were reports circulating in the media on Monday that Mr Morrison has instigated a review of the system with the aim of winding backing both the JobKeeper and JobSeeker packages earlier than their original September expiry date.

Mr Morrison suggested if the unemployment rate dropped sooner than anticipated he would look at winding back the scheme.

“The thing that matters is getting Australian businesses back open,” Mr Morrison said. “Because when that happens, there will be no need for those levels of income support.

“Success for our economy is when we’re able to get ourselves out of the situation which requires such enormous taxpayer support.

“If people are in jobs, they don’t need income support. And that’s my task. That’s the state’s task. That’s all of our task – to support business.”

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the initial pandemic response showed the best of politics, but now the economic response needed to be met with fairness and security for the most vulnerable.

“The prime minister’s talk of a ‘snap back’ to what came before, foreshadows a return to the Liberals’ traditional agenda,” Mr Albanese said.

“Marketing slogans won’t ease the ongoing burden of this pandemic, or hasten recovery.”

Mr Albanese suggested the government should use this time of crisis to boost public services, instead of cutting them.

“We could start by restoring public sector jobs in areas such as Centrelink, Medicare and Veterans Affairs,” Mr Albanese said. “The contracting out of essential public services is not in the national interest and must stop.

“It’s time to put human beings and human dignity back into human services.”

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) chief executive Cassandra Goldie said that the community would strongly oppose any attempt to make early cuts to income support measures.

“People cannot afford these huge cuts to income support, proposed by the government, which would take us back to the old, brutal rate of Newstart at just $40 a day,” Ms Goldie said.

“Let’s not forget that on the old Newstart rate, people living on such little money were showering once a week to cut their energy bill, and 90 per cent regularly skipped meals, as shown by our survey last year. 

“The government says it has our backs but going ahead with these severe cuts to income support would be the opposite. 

“The government must keep the new JobSeeker payment in place until our income support system is fixed, so that nobody is forced to live below the poverty line.”

The poverty line in Australia, as defined by the OECD, is $500 per week for a single person with no children. 

“Cutting income from those who need it the most would trap people in poverty long term and only make our economy go further backwards,” Ms Goldie said.

“We must make sure those of us without paid work can cover the basics – food, housing, electricity. This will mean people can make the most of job opportunities as the economy rebuilds.”

Have you been relying on either the JobKeeper or JobSeeker assistance packages during the pandemic? Do you think the payments should continue to offer people security through a difficult time?

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Written by Ben

105 Comments

Total Comments: 105
  1. 0
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    Ha, I only just received my first JobKeeper payment last Thursday, what’s with this relying on it business, it only started from 30 March! I lost all my work in mid February!

    • 0
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      Are you self employed? If you have an employer, you should have been receiving JobKeeper from end of March.

    • 0
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      Jobkeeper is a reimbursment of wages to the employer, who has been paying wages to that employee, every week. When they worked, they got their pay. When they stopped working, the employer should have still been paying you $750 a week (taxable).

    • 0
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      if namaste is a sole trader running his/her own business, the payments would flow directly to him/her as the proprietor of the business, so his/her statement would be correct.

  2. 0
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    “Do you think the payments should continue to offer people security through a difficult time?”

    The payments were made on a notional future time when the effects of the pandemic were unknown and have gone a long way to supporting those who have lost their income or are unable to apply for work because of the quarantining. It must follow that when business opens up and people are going back to work that financial support is no longer necessary. Australia’s economy has taken a huge hit and it will be many years before the additional grants will be recouped.

    As the unemployment numbers will be much higher than before the pandemic, I agree that increasing the frontline staff at Centrelink should be an essential part of the recovery process. I note that Albanese is playing politics once more with the crisis by referring to “marketing slogans” which is a direct reference to Morrison who Labor are trying to paint as “Scotty from Marketing”. Morrison by any measure has done a very good job in coordinating the campaign against the pandemic, bringing together politicians of all sides as well as health professionals. Labor will be trying to negate Morrison’s standing in the polls.

    • 0
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      Increase frontline staff at Centrelink,i agree with that maybe they should have thought about that
      before they decreased staff,but then again we weren’t going through a pandemic.But I don’t
      see how increasing staff at Centrelink will help anyone on jobseeker payment if Morrison decides to leave the jobseeker payment as it was before this increase which is supposed to go for 6mths.As unemployment numbers will be much higher the Govt has to increase jobseeker payment maybe not the figure of $1,100 but something more liveable than before this increase.

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      Increase frontline staff at Centrelink,i agree with that maybe they should have thought about that
      before they decreased staff,but then again we weren’t going through a pandemic.But I don’t
      see how increasing staff at Centrelink will help anyone on jobseeker payment if Morrison decides to leave the jobseeker payment as it was before this increase which is supposed to go for 6mths.As unemployment numbers will be much higher the Govt has to increase jobseeker payment maybe not the figure of $1,100 but something more liveable than before this increase.

  3. 0
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    If the Government thought that it was necessary to increase the Job Seeker Allowance by $550 a week due to the Covid 19 situation, how can they justify dropping it back to the previous below the poverty line amount?

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      Simply because they tried to use a payment system that was not designed for a pandemic. It is a complete disaster. They should have had a system that was designed for such a situation and not tried to use an existing system that was not even adequate for what it was actually designed for. I just can’t believe it asked a person for the value of their assets in 1993. That person is still waiting for someone to contact them and has received nothing.

    • 0
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      Jobseeker is $550 per fortnight not weekly

    • 0
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      Nika it is $550 a week

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      Nika – it’s NORMALLY $550 pf, it was doubled during this pandemic.

    • 0
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      Most people agree that the government cannot go back to $550 per fortnight as no one can live on that or hunt for jobs or keep their self esteem in tact let alone be fed and housed.

    • 0
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      I agree the increase is an admission the original amount is not enough to seek work with.

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      The original amount is certainly not enough to seek work with, but the increase is hardly an admission of that since the increase comes at a time when seeking work is rather futile given the massive increase in unemployment and decrease is job opportunities, and the government has already said that when the economy opens up again the amount will be reduced to the original. Therefore, clearly the government does not recognize that the amount is not enough to seek work with. Or else they really want to stop the unemployed seeking work, and all their claims are lies.

  4. 0
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    Always the problem with these sorts of temporary emergency measures… people quickly adopt them as the “norm” and expect them to just roll on and on…Welcome to the age of “entitlement”
    PS: No disrespect to the genuine out there.

    • 0
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      Bakka $550 pf is impossible to help any taxpaying citizen find work. If the pension were reduced to that amount, there would be an uproar.

    • 0
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      Spot on The Thinker. Jobseeker has to remain as it is now. Nobody can exist on $550 per fornight.

    • 0
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      For those longtime newstart receivers, extra money just means more ciggies, booze and meth. They aren’t looking for jobs and never have. ( once again, sorry to those genuine out of workers who are looking to work.)

    • 0
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      Geordie that is a disgusting comment, the majority of JobSeeker (Newstart) receivers are genuine people looking for work your comment is so unwarranted because you are talking about a very small majority.

  5. 0
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    With the amount of money paid and to be paid out by the Government in the near future as welfare I can see a huge reduction in the welfare area after we get back to normal.
    I would think that there would be massive cuts to try and get the budget back to normal from especially the pension area which is huge.

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      And don’t forget we workers paid for our pension through taxes for decades, but the govt likes to make it sound like welfare. I have no doubt that when this pandemic is over the govt will return to its self indulgent practices concerned only with their own jobs and winning the next election and the people and Australia can whistle dixie.

    • 0
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      Actually, Tood, our taxes when we worked were used in part to pay the age pensions of those who were entitled to them. Current age pensioners are getting paid through the taxes of those who are still working.

    • 0
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      How do you see a reduction in welfare Robo….as in welfare payment or welfare numbers,because welfare numbers will much higher and for quite some time,if they reduce welfare payments be it pensions,jobseeker or what ever else it won’t help the economy in any way at all.

    • 0
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      How do you see a reduction in welfare Robo….as in welfare payment or welfare numbers,because welfare numbers will much higher and for quite some time,if they reduce welfare payments be it pensions,jobseeker or what ever else it won’t help the economy in any way at all.

    • 0
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      Workers did not pay for their pension through taxes for decades. You only get the pension because you have no other means of support. It has nothing to do with whether you paid tax or not. Aged pension is welfare.

    • 0
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      I’d like to see the money received by those on the old age pension paid back from their estates. That would make it fair for everyone.

    • 0
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      Ret. Well – I said long ago that a death duty would take care of excessive accumulated wealth. But which party is going to run with that? Let us keep our houses we paid for and if the value has risen over the years take something out of the estate before giving it to the offspring. Most countries run it this way but then in other places one is not obsessed with owning property like we are. At fault is the tax free status of assets like owners’ property.

    • 0
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      I’m not talking about death duties at all. Only stupid people pay death duties.

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      O K sainter the way I see it they will have to do something because there is way to many people on welfare something will have to be reduced as the Government will not have the money to pay it whether the age is raised for pensioners or the Assets test strengthened or perhaps the house included in the asset test or something else, just my opinion.

    • 0
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      Ret. Well – you said the pension needs to be paid back from their estates. How would you do that without taxing their estates? Would you force pensioners to sell their houses while still alive to pay their pension money back? Sure, some of my friends have handed their property to their sons and now live on the pension. That way they own nothing and get the full whacko on the AP. No death duties ever even if introduced in the future.

    • 0
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      Robo, making the assets test stronger or including the house will result in MORE aged pensioners – maybe not immediately, but in the medium term. It’s already not worth saving if you can’t be very well off, so people are shedding their assets to get the pension and advisers are telling people they are better off retiring with less. Continually punishing people for trying to be self-sufficient will only drive more people to shed assets and put their hands out. It’s DUMB policy, and I think at last the powers-that-be are being alerted to the stupidity of it.

    • 0
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      Retire well. That was a silly comment about paying back from estates. Only a broke man would say that.

    • 0
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      Makes sense as we expect students to pay back their uni vees so why not those on welfare too.

    • 0
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      It is just announced he is now being tested for Covid-19 as people are so auspicious now of anyone who even sneezes let alone coughs.

    • 0
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      Yes, Ret Well, if people have to pay back welfare from their estate the government will have to have a running account on every person living in Australia. Any unemployment benefits in someone’s 50 years or so working life, child care, hospital stays, etc all recorded during their life and presented for repayment after they’ve taken their last breath.

    • 0
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      No the government will only need a running balance of how much age pension you have been paid which they would have now so they can use it I the future.

    • 0
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      Retiring Well, there’s a huge difference between paying back an education debt – which is created by choice via pursuit of qualifications that result in higher income for the rest of one’s life – and a pension debt, which often does not arise by choice but rather as a result of misfortune and results in a lower standard of living for the remainder of one’s life. The problem in Australia is an idiotic notion that people should be rewarded for manipulating to appear poorer than they are in old age, and that those who strive to be self-reliant should be punished harshly.

      I definitely do not support the idea of the pension being a repayable debt, but nor do I think it should be assets-tested. It should be paid universally to all long-term residents over a certain age who worked or otherwise contributed to society (eg by caring, volunteer work, etc), and any additional income should be taxed. The disabled should continue to receive disability benefits. Recent immigrants and those who did not contribute to the community (i.e. bludgers who lived off Newstart for most of their lives) should be paid the Newstart allowance only and yes, THEY should pay back from their estate if they have anything to leave – which is unlikely!).

      It’s time society recognized that those of us who work hard and pay taxes have a right to be supported in old age, and endeavouring to save or pay for a nice home to make retirement more comfortable should not be a punishable offence.

    • 0
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      The age pension is a choice to as you don’t automatically get it. You have to apply for it the same as education debt.

      if you had worked hard and paid lots of taxes you would not get the pension. You only get the pension as you have no others means of support. Those who have worked hard and now have to provide for their own retirement are being fleeced and certainly not supported for doing so. Yes you would have to be a real fool to save for your retirement under the current conditions. Many of these people are now earning a lot less than the pension but have not received anything for the losses they have had due to Covid-19. Spoke to a couple a few days ago who had lost 70% of their income and they have now cutting their living expenses considerably as they are afraid of their future earnings.

      The other alternative is to give everyone over pension age the pension.

    • 0
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      Anonymous,what do you suggest get old and just drop off away as quick as possible,they can start by lowering pollie pensions these $100,000+ pensions are they really needed along with the other perks pollies get when they call it quits,they can also look at massive waste of money for these Job Services robbers,that job can be done by Centrelink as it was before…just a couple of examples,easy to bash the old pensioner.

    • 0
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      Anonymous,what do you suggest get old and just drop off away as quick as possible,they can start by lowering pollie pensions these $100,000+ pensions are they really needed along with the other perks pollies get when they call it quits,they can also look at massive waste of money for these Job Services robbers,that job can be done by Centrelink as it was before…just a couple of examples,easy to bash the old pensioner.

    • 0
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      It’s not the old pensioner being bashed, sainter. It’s the battlers who worked hard to be self-sufficient in retirement but have limited assets and are struggling on income lower than the pension, for no better reason than that they saved and tried hard to not rely on the taxpayer in old age. They are the ones now being deprived. And they are the ones Labor maligned and abused and lied about while trying to wipe out their meagre incomes.

    • 0
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      Young Again……That was evident decades ago!

  6. 0
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    Pity the morons have done bugger all in dramatically reducing utilities costs which would go a long way to making any wage more livable

    • 0
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      I just can’t believe such a comment which obviously says you on welfare and enough is never enough for you.

    • 0
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      Retiring Well I think you may have misread Tood’s comment. Its got nothing to do with being on welfare or getting hand outs. What Tood is saying is the government should look into reducing utility costs. The cost of electricity and gas is exorbitant for everyone, whether working or not. People who are on pensions or low incomes struggle to pay the bills to a point where, as the article says, will go without showers and also avoid turning heating on in winter etc. Its got nothing to do with handouts, its about making vital services more affordable. The public has been asking the government to do something about this for years but nothing at all has been done by any of the partys, instead the prices just keep on increasing

    • 0
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      Retiring Well I think you may have misread Tood’s comment. Its got nothing to do with being on welfare or getting hand outs. What Tood is saying is the government should look into reducing utility costs. The cost of electricity and gas is exorbitant for everyone, whether working or not. People who are on pensions or low incomes struggle to pay the bills to a point where, as the article says, will go without showers and also avoid turning heating on in winter etc. Its got nothing to do with handouts, its about making vital services more affordable. The public has been asking the government to do something about this for years but nothing at all has been done by any of the partys, instead the prices just keep on increasing

    • 0
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      Electricity and gas are only expensive if you use them. I pay very little for them myself. I use a wood fire for heating and cooking in winter and a BBQ for cooking in the summer. Last bill was $100 per quarter. That’s less than $10 a week.

    • 0
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      Ret. Well. Well done if you can live like that, not possible where we live, cannot have wooden fires all the time. My electricity bill is $3 a day and half of that is the supply charge. When the air con is on it’s one dollar more, so I am looking at $21 to $30 a week. Bottle of wine in the pub is $28 so I find the power bill affordable.

    • 0
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      Best wine I ever tasted costs $4.99 from Aldi. They have a port too for $4.99 but it’s even better if stored in my wine cellar for 12 months.

    • 0
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      The Government lost control of these prices when they privatised the electricity system and did such a bad deal selling our gas. All those lies about efficiency and cheap prices just to get the mates hands on public money and public assets.

  7. 0
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    Well, it won’t affect me whatever happens, along with all other Aged Pensioners and NDIS recipients, I have not received any increase. (I’m on Aged Pension). I did get the $750 stimulus last month which enabled me to do some house repairs and garden clean up, so I spent the money locally. Now I’m thinking I should have saved it to deal with the increase in prices at the supermarket….quite hefty in some cases. Can’t imagine they will go down if assistance is cut, wonder if the second stimulus will still appear in July? Meanwhile some people out of work are getting twice as much a week as people like me, and some of them will be living at home with their parents I’m sure. I do not begrudge anyone without work getting this money, but I would have appreciated some help as well. At least I won’t have to deal with getting less again – I hope anyway!! but who ever knows what this mob have in mind??

    • 0
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      Be thankful you get a pension and the supplement, Patti. Those who support themselves in retirement have seen their income collapse in many cases and they get NOTHING. They have no secure income, no concessions or benefits, and no supplement. Why? Because they tried hard to be self-sufficient and not be a burden on taxpayers.

    • 0
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      Just coming back from the supermarket I have to agree with patti about price rises. Some are rather steep and possibly not justified. On the other hand this social isolation caused me to save quite a bit of money, used to go to the local club 4 times a week for a few schooners with my mates. Drinking a few stubbies at home by myself, not as much fun but more dough in the pockets.

    • 0
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      Yes Mariner I hope people start to realise how expensive pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes had become. The prices were getting way ahead of average incomes.

      All I got from years of saving from the LNP was an income cut and no support at all.

      Just continue paying full prices for everything and watch others get all the free money and concessions.

      I have a feeling we’ll all have to deal with having less as prices rise. No way will this current mob see consequences or do the fair thing.

  8. 0
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    Josh Frydenberg just chocked in Parliament while giving his budget update must have been to much for even him to swallow

  9. 0
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    The Jobseeker should always have been enough to pay for essentials instead it has not changed in years and yet those bigwigs give themselves rises all the time and they don’t need any excuses as to why they should have the raise!

    • 0
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      It is more than enough for essentials and never was meant to be a living wage.

    • 0
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      Agree with you Dotty. The LNP just love to put down those terrible dole bludgers! It is cruel and unnecessary to keep it below the poverty line. Any money the unemployed receives go straight back into the community, they spend everything they get on goods and services.

  10. 0
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    The Government needs to keep its promise of 6 months. People are planning based on that decision, and the program has been legislated for six months. Reneging on this decision and timeline is not acceptable, it takes away hope and support for people at this nasty time.

    • 0
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      It is not even six months as it began on 27th April and ends on 1 October. That calculates to five months to me. The Jobseeker is just liveable so I cannot see how they will be able to halve that for people as jobs are not going to spring back by magic.
      It should remain. As people become employed then remove the supports but, otherwise, it must stay in place to help keep people housed and fed.

    • 0
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      No surprise with this Govt tell you to expect to hibernate then get out from under the doona,we do not really know what is ahead yet….except many people will be unemployed.But legislate payments for 6mnts and then hope like hell you can get rid of them ASAP,The LNP started doing a good job with this crisis,they’ll undo it all real quick if they go back to their old habits.

    • 0
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      No surprise with this Govt tell you to expect to hibernate then get out from under the doona,we do not really know what is ahead yet….except many people will be unemployed.But legislate payments for 6mnts and then hope like hell you can get rid of them ASAP,The LNP started doing a good job with this crisis,they’ll undo it all real quick if they go back to their old habits.

    • 0
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      paddington- the payments are for 13 fortnights, with in theory is actually less than 6 months, but it is 1/2 of 26 fortnights which is a full year- make sense

    • 0
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      Thanks leek, I was looking a calendar months only.

    • 0
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      Well said Paddington

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