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Thursday, October 29, 2020

UK-style wage subsidy scheme on cards for Australia

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Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has confirmed the Morrison Government is working on a wage subsidy so that business can keep workers on their payrolls during the coronavirus crisis.

The Government, including Senator Cormann, has repeatedly rejected a UK-style 80 per cent wage subsidy, saying it would take too long to introduce.

“We are going to do it in an Australian way,” he told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“We’re going to do it in a way that actually is going to be able to be delivered, using our existing systems and our existing architecture.”

Senator Cormann said from his understanding, the UK’s plan had yet to be rolled out.

“We are working very hard on further expanding the level of income support through businesses to enable more businesses either to stay in hibernation or to survive through this difficult period ahead for a strong bounce back on the other side,” he said.

He declined to go into the specifics of the plan but said the Government intended to make an announcement “over the next few days”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government was working to provide “further boosted income support”.

But this would not be a matter of “cutting and pasting” income support measures from countries like the UK and Germany, he said.

“We’ve been very careful to ensure that income support can be delivered in a way that gets it to people as quickly as possible using the existing systems that we have when we do these things it’s not a matter of just cutting and pasting ideas from other places,” he said.

“We need to have solutions that will work in Australia and so our approach has been to apply the discipline to the design of measures to deal with demand.”

Mr Morrison said the Government was “learning from its mistakes” regarding slow delivery of financial assistance.

He reassured employers the measures would be announced “very soon” to alleviate the stress on their businesses.

“So I would say to employers, who I know, are going through very difficult times, These changes will be announced soon,” he said.

“We will be ensuring also that those who have already gone into this very devastating situation maybe they’ve had to stand down workers, that with any measures that we’re announcing … we’ll be working back to that.”

Mr Morrison asked employers to hold off on further decisions to lay off staff until the new measures were announced.

He also confirmed the package would not be reserved only for small businesses, but would have “broader application” to larger companies such as Qantas, which has had to stand down thousands of staff in recent weeks.

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