Australia

Senate passes $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg attend a parliamentary sitting under rules of social distancing. Source: AAP

Eligible workers will from May get $1,500 fortnightly payments for six months after the federal government's $130 billion wage subsidy scheme passed parliament.

The Senate has passed the federal government's $130 billion coronavirus wage subsidy package - the largest economic package in Australia's history.

The JobKeeper legislation passed through both houses of parliament without any amendments.

Under the plan, businesses will receive $1,500 every fortnight for six months per employee, which they'll be legally obligated to pass onto their workers.

All full-time and part-time employees will be covered by the JobKeeper payment, along with casuals with a one-year link to their employer, sole traders, and New Zealanders on 444 working visas.

"The JobKeeper package at a $130 billion is much more than a material, financial, or indeed even a practical boost. The JobKeeper package is a psychological boost for our nation," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. 

The federal government resisted calls to extend the scheme to cover casual workers who had been with their employer for less than a year and people in Australia on temporary visas.  

More than 730,000 businesses have registered for the program since it was announced last week. 

Companies will be eligible if they can demonstrate a 30 per cent virus-related turnover hit, with the threshold set at 50 per cent for businesses turning over $1 billion.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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