Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has compared the once-in-a-generation COVID-19 calamity to fighting a war against a “flagless and faceless enemy,” hours after briefing the nation on the economic toll the pathogen is taking on Australia.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News Chief Anchor Kieran Gilbert, Mr Frydenberg said Australia had dealt with the virus better than nearly any other country but conceded the “harsh reality” the pandemic has played on the budget’s bottom line.
The Treasurer announced Australia’s gross debt is forecast to hit $851.9 billion with this year’s budget deficit expected to reach $184.5 bn due to the novel coronavirus.
In Victoria alone, around 975,000 employees are reliant on JobKeeper, with the program nationally costing the budget $11 bn per month.
Mr Frydenberg said JobKeeper cannot continue indefinitely at its current rate.
“But the support, Kieran, will be there for those who need it,” he said.
“We’re also focused on a two-tiered payment to better reflect what some employers were receiving in the pre-COVID period because, as you know, at a flat $1500 payment the money got out the door quickly but for many there was an over payment.
“My expectation is as a function of what has transpired now is that more of those businesses will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment in the extended period, after September.
“In Victoria obviously there were mistakes made, there needs to be lessons learnt, that state is one-quarter of the national economy, and it’s effectively in lockdown for more than 5 million Victorians.
“The impact of that is very substantial.”
From: Sky News Australia