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We need to plan for life after JobKeeper now. We need to make it portable

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate John Quiggin writes in The Conversation (14.5.20) that many Australians are going to need some sort of wage subsidy well beyond a six-month timeframe to support them through the pandemic downturn. The author suggests the best kind of subsidy would be ‘portable’ and not tied to previous employment.

‘As an emergency response to the potential mass unemployment created by the sudden lockdown, the Morrison government’s JobKeeper program has been reasonably successful. An estimated 700 000 employers, accounting for 4.7 million workers have signed up.

‘On the other hand, the sign up of workers has been been about one million less than expected. Plenty of problems have emerged with limits on coverage.

‘Some reflect the difficulty of defining a “job” in an environment in which permanent employment has been eroded in favour of casual employment and contracting and the gig economy.

‘Others seem arbitrary, such as the effective exclusion of local government and university employees, and workers whose employers are companies owned by foreign governments.

‘There will be bigger problems as time goes on.’

What’ll happen when the money’s snatched back? Our looming coronavirus support cliff

Danielle Wood and Nathan Blane write in The Conversation (14.5.20) that when Australia’s coronavirus support payments cease by the end of October, it’ll leave a gaping hole in needed relief for workers and the economy.

‘At almost 10% of gross domestic product, and a much larger per cent of government spending, Australia’s fiscal response to the COVID-19 crisis has been one of the biggest in the world.

‘The government is spending an average of A$26 billion a month on programs that didn’t exist in February.

‘To put that in perspective, before COVID-19 the government’s total average monthly expenditure this financial year was going to be $42 billion.

‘While far from perfect, these emergency measures have been successful at supporting the incomes of many households and businesses.

‘But, as this chart shows, each and every one will be gone by the end of October, making October a very dangerous time for businesses and for the economy.’

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