Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says the Morrison government’s massive multi-billion JobKeeper mistake raises questions over how it will manage the economic recovery coming out of the coronavirus pandemic.
The government admitted to a $60 billion reporting error to its much-heralded JobKeeper program on Friday.
Rather than costing the budget $130 billion, the wage subsidy program to assist business and workers through the crisis has been slashed to $70 billion, and is now forecast to assist 3.5 million employees instead of 6.5 million.
“If they can’t manage a program like JobKeeper to the tune of a mistake of $60 billion, and three million people… then there has got to be a great question mark over how they’ll manage the economic recovery,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.
“This is a government that’s good at boasting that the budget is ‘Back in Black’, that they’ve got this all under control, but when it comes to the detail they’re simply not capable of delivering.”
Labor has been calling for the JobKeeper payment to be broadened to casuals and other work groups that missed out, but the government has repeatedly rejected the idea, even with the program now much smaller.
Labor frontbencher Amanda Rishworth said the bungle was a “slap in the face” for close to one million workers who were told by the government that the program was over subscribed and they wouldn’t be allowed to enter it.
Liberal backbencher Julian Leeser said the JobKeeper program is due to be reviewed at the end of June and any changes to the program will be part of that discussion.
“I think it’s important to remember here that this is all borrowed money,” he told ABC TV.
“So instead of paying back $130 billion of borrowed money, we’re paying back $70 billion of borrowed money. That’s still a very large amount of money that taxpayers of the current generation and future generations will need to pay back.”
The “reporting error” announced by Treasury and the Australian Taxation Office came as 15 new COVID-19 cases were recorded across the country on Friday.
The national death toll stands at 101.
A nurse who continued to show up to work at an aged-care home with symptoms for COVID-19 at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre has been referred to Queensland’s anti-corruption body.
She was suspended while an investigation is underway and is now in home isolation.
Chief nursing and midwifery officer Alison McMillan says it’s important for Australians not to drop the ball as restrictions ease.
In NSW up to 50 people able to dine in restaurants, pubs and cafes from June 1 – well above the limits in other states and territories.
In South Australia all cafes and restaurants can serve up to 10 patrons indoors and as well as 10 outdoors.
Victoria announced its Year 11 and 12 students will begin exams in early November and have their results by the end of the year, as schools prepare to reopen next week.
In Tasmania Years 11 and 12 plus kindergarten to Year 6 are set to return to classrooms from Monday.