17.6k of Coast’s casual workers to miss out on subsidy
MORE than 17,000 of the Sunshine Coast's "most vulnerable" casual workers will miss out on Australia's new fortnightly $1500 wage subsidy.
The Federal Government approved the $130 billion JobKeeper legislation on Wednesday night, expected to benefit up to six million Australians.
It is Australia's largest piece of government spending in history and more than 730,000 businesses have already registered to access the scheme.
But the government refused to budge on calls from the Opposition to extend it to casual workers employed in the same position for less than 12 months.
There are 17,600 Sunshine Coast casual workers who have been employed for less than a year, according to Australian Council of Trade Union's analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce president Brendan Bathersby welcomed the scheme, but hoped the government would extend it to those 17,600 workers.
"I'd love to think that the government could find a way to extend what's already an enormous package to cover those people, because they are probably the most vulnerable … because they have not had time to accrue any benefits or savings," he said.
"It's tragic if it can't be extended."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said "a line had to be drawn" at some stage.
Casual workers ineligible for JobKeeper payments could benefit from the JobSeeker payment, formerly Newstart, which was doubled to about $1100 a fortnight recently.
Mr Bathersby said the package would help small businesses remain open during the ongoing pandemic.
"Without the package businesses would certainly close, but whether the package is enough to ensure businesses survive, the proof will be in the pudding," he said.
De Bretts Seafood managing director Gary Heilmann told media on Wednesday that the package would help keep staff employed at the Mooloolaba business.
The business has suffered a massive downturn with the loss of wholesale sales due to restaurant closures.
"The JobKeeper package from the Federal Government will pick up two thirds of our wages and our wages run at about $25,000 a week," he said.
"That's going to be a big help … we've already had to put 12 staff off which is sad and disappointing but at least there is government relief there."
Payments from the wage subsidy program will flow from May.
The scheme also does not apply for temporary visa holders.