Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Tuesday, 22 September 2020
ALLISON LANGDON: Millions of out of work Australians will have their JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments slashed within days as the Government moves to get more people back to work.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Federal Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, joins us now from Perth. Mathias good morning to you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Almost five and a half million Australians are receiving one of these payments. I think you allocated $70 billion for the first round, $30 billion for the second. How many will miss out when the rules change?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As the economy recovers and as businesses recover what we would expect will happen is that businesses will start paying a larger share of the wages of their employees again. This JobKeeper arrangement was always meant to be temporary. The enhanced JobSeeker payments were always meant to be temporary. They there were to support business and support Australians through the initial phases of the crisis. We have extended them at a lower rate. The enhanced JobSeeker arrangements to the end of the year, JobKeeper to the end of March. JobKeeper is a wage subsidy. Businesses would be expected to pay the wages of their employees out of their income rather than on the basis of taxpayer funded support.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Given the numbers then and the change in the numbers how many do you think will not qualify for it, will not be eligible for it and how many won't receive it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: 900,000 businesses have been supported by JobKeeper, about three and a half million Australians. The economy has been recovering. 450,000 jobs have been restored. More than 450,000 jobs have been restored over the last three months. The unemployment rate has been starting to come down again. It is certainly well below where we had feared it would be. We want Australians to have the best possible opportunity to get ahead, getting as many Australians back into work as possible. The enhanced support continues to remain in place for some while yet.
ALLISON LANGDON: So JobSeeker, the Social Services Minister said yesterday if needed it would be extended into next year. People need the clarity. When can you provide that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have to assess what the economy is like later in the year. At this stage we have extended the enhanced JobSeeker arrangement and coronavirus supplement at a lower rate to the end of this year. We will continue to assess all of the economic data, we will assess the speed with which jobs are being restored and the economy continues to recover. Later in the year we will be making further judgments if and as required.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You now have infectious diseases experts saying, along with leaders in the property, retail and hospitality sectors pushing for borders to reopen. Are you going to be able to insist on that in any way, shape or form?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We continue to work, the Prime Minister is continuing to work through the National Cabinet. We would like to think all Premiers would agree with us that... interrupted
KARL STEFANOVIC: They are not though.
MATHIAS CORMANN: ...state borders should be reopened as soon as possible. I think I have detected a level of shifting on this front. I am detecting some shifts. In the end I think all of us want Australia to be restored to as close as possible to normal in a way that is COVID-safe. We want those state borders to be opened as soon as that can safely be done. Certainly to have a growing number of doctors making that point obviously is very welcome.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Mathias, when you detect a shift the whole world listens. What sort of shift are we talking here? A small shift, a seismic shift, what sort of shift?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am certainly listening to what, including the Premier here in Western Australia, has been saying in more recent days. I think there is an awareness that people would expect state borders to be reopened as soon as possible and as soon as that can be done in a way that is COVID-safe. When you have a growing number of medical experts arguing that this should happen and that there are no public health reasons for borders to remain closed in the same way as they have been, then that is clearly something that I am sure they will be taking on board.
ALLISON LANGDON: A big couple of weeks ahead. We look forward, I think, to the budget in two weeks’ time. Thanks for joining us.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah. Thank you.