TUESDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2020
LEON BYNER, HOST: The Federal Government's decision to extend the JobKeeper payment has been celebrated. It's the $1,500 a fortnight wage subsidy that was announced by the Government in response to COVID-19. It's coming down somewhat shortly but the second version of the scheme comes with a raft of new eligibility criteria. That's where you need to know the detail. Just so you've got the facts, I thought we would pick the brain of a bloke who's pretty clever. He's the Federal Shadow Treasurer, Dr Jim Chalmers. Jim, thanks for joining us today.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Thank you, Leon.
BYNER: What are the criteria that are changing that might make this a little more problematic for people?
CHALMERS: There are a whole range of things changing from next Monday, 28 September. There'll be changes to eligibility for businesses as you just mentioned. But I think probably the most troubling bit is that there'll be a cut to the rate itself, from $1,500 to $1,200. Something like 56,000 South Australian businesses will see their JobKeeper payments cut which will impact something like 211,000 South Australian workers. That's a bit concerning. Some businesses have recovered sufficiently enough that they don't need JobKeeper anymore, but many of them haven't. We need to make sure that the Government isn't in a rush to kick people off or to cut the rate because the economy in aggregate isn't ready for it yet.
BYNER: Alright. We'll talk about businesses in a moment; how will individuals be affected?
CHALMERS: In two ways Leon. First of all, if they work for a business which is no longer eligible, then they won't be receiving JobKeeper. As I said some businesses have recovered; there are parts of the South Australian economy which are going okay and some which aren't. In some ways it's normal that when a business has properly recovered, it shouldn't be accessing some of these payments, so that's part of it. If the place where you work isn't eligible any more then the worker isn't eligible anymore. The most impactful way that the changes will matter for a South Australian worker is if your business is still eligible for the payment and you were getting $1,500, it will go down to $1,200. That makes a difference in a few ways. First of all, it’s a bit harder to put food on the table and it’s a bit harder for the business that you work for as well. It also means that there's less money circulating in the South Australian economy and that's problematic. I'm know I'm giving you lots of numbers this morning, Leon, but I dug out some numbers. Just for the federal electorate of Adelaide, for example -
CHALMERS: These cuts to JobKeeper mean just in that city electorate there'll be something like $37 million a fortnight fewer dollars circulating in the economy. That's an issue as well. We've been pretty constructive, as you know, Leon – I've been on your show before – we've tried to be responsible when it comes to what the Government's proposing. Clearly JobKeeper won't exist forever, we've always said that it should be tailored to the economic conditions, but we don't want the Government to be in a rush to cut JobKeeper because it will be problematic for a lot of South Australian workers, businesses and for local economies which are relying on this money circulating in their shops.
BYNER: We know there are a number of jobs which they can't fill and that is another story, but is it possible that if you're on the reduced JobKeeper and you want to supplement your income, you can still do it reasonably if you can find work without cutting your supplement further? Is that still possible?
CHALMERS: Yeah, there's a whole range of interactions like that between the various payments and also between what you can earn. The simplest way for your listeners to understand it is that full rate change of about $300 less a fortnight. That'll be the experience that most people on JobKeeper have.
BYNER: Alright. If you're a business, you still have to reshow that you're 30 per cent down from what?
CHALMERS: The new test means, in terms of turnover not profit, if you're a company which turns over less than a billion dollars, you need to show a 30 per cent decline in the September quarter. If you're a bigger business, you need to show a 50 per cent decline. This has snuck up on a lot of businesses. You see in the media that there's more stories and there's a lot more interest in the community. People are trying to work out what happens to them next Monday when this JobKeeper payment is cut. A lot of businesses are talking to their accountants and working out whether they still qualify or not –
CHALMERS: - so it's a pretty stressful time.
BYNER: All right. Jim, thank you for doing that forensic work for us.