(Australian Associated Press)
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has swatted away calls to extend wage subsidies beyond March as border closures and coronavirus restrictions spark fresh economic uncertainty.
Labor is urging the government to consider extending JobKeeper after Brisbane’s UK strain scare and outbreaks in NSW and Victoria over Christmas.
In a series of interviews, Mr Frydenberg pointed to the scheme’s March end date and talked up a range of other measures to help businesses.
He later didn’t emphatically rule out another extension if circumstances failed to improve.
“We will maintain a watching brief as to how the economic recovery goes in the coming months,” the treasurer told reporters in Victoria on Monday.
Mr Frydenberg said JobKeeper had already been extended for six months beyond its initial expiry date at a lower rate.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers attacked Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack for saying businesses wanted the scheme to end in March.
“It says everything about how out of touch they are, how willing this government is to leave people out and leave them behind in the aftermath of this recession,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Dr Chalmers said businesses in regional Queensland were desperately reliant on JobKeeper after the latest border closures.
“All of this self-congratulation, all of this rhetoric from the government wants to pretend that everybody is fine and everybody is out of the woods,” he said.