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Peter Dutton says government IS willing to extend JobKeeper

‘I think we are flexible’: Peter Dutton says the government IS willing to extend JobKeeper after thousands of Aussies were left out of work during the coronavirus pandemic

Peter Dutton has claimed the government is willing to extend JobKeeper payments after thousands of Australians were left out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Home Affairs minister appeared on Today and said the government would be ‘flexible’ with the installments as jobs are at the centre of their focus amid the health crisis. 

Karl Stefanovic referred to the head of the Reserve Bank of Australia, who said the payments must continue past September, and asked Mr Dutton if they would follow the advice.

Mr Dutton said: ‘Well, ultimately that’s a decision for the prime minister and for the treasurer.’

‘But I think clearly the government has shown we have been able to implement the JobKeeper, double the payment that was otherwise paid to people who are unemployed through the JobSeeker payment and we want businesses to recover.

‘We want jobs to be at the centre of every decision we make. 

‘So I think we are flexible and we will look at the way in which we could help businesses and people get back to a normal way of life.’ 

Peter Dutton says the government is willing to extend JobKeeper payments after thousands of Australians were left out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: People are seen wearing face masks in a long queue outside a Gold Coast Centrelink office in March

Dole payments have been doubled to help Australians cope with the economic fallout of coronavirus but will return to pre-coronavirus levels in September. 

Mr Dutton’s appearance on Today on Friday morning came after Governor Philip Lowe told a COVID-19 parliamentary hearing the $1,500 a fortnight wage subsidies scheme may have to run longer than its September 27 deadline. 

‘It’s clearly going to be a critical point when that scheme comes to an end,’ he said.

‘If the economy’s not recovered reasonably well by then, as part of that review, we should be looking at perhaps the extension of that scheme or the modification in some way.’

He made the call six days after Treasury and the Australian Taxation Office revealed it would cost $70billion and not $130billion as announced on March 30 to cover businesses forced to shut down because of coronavirus.

The JobKeeper program will now cover 3.5million workers instead of six million.

The RBA is also forecasting a 10 per cent decline in Australia’s economy in the first half of 2020, which would almost certainly produce the first recession since 1991.

Dr Lowe said JobKeeper may have to be extended to cover struggling industries if the economy had not sufficiently recovered in four months’ time.

‘If we’ve not come out of the current trough in economic activity, there will be and there should be a debate about how the JobKeeper program transitions into something else or whether it’s extended for specific industries or somehow tapered,’ he said.

‘It’s very important we don’t withdraw the fiscal stimulus too early.’