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Treasurer rules out JobKeeper extension for struggling sector


Josh Frydenberg has rejected a proposal to extend JobKeeper payments for the hard-hit hospitality industry.

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Restaurant and Catering chief Wes Lambert wants taxpayer-funded wage assistance extended for six months beyond March for businesses hit by coronavirus-induced lockdowns and border restrictions.

But the treasurer ruled out the idea in a written response published by The Australian on Friday.

“We recognise the challenges faced by the accommodation and food services industry,” Frydenberg wrote.

“However, given the unprecedented levels of support announced by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, I consider that existing policy settings will continue to support a strong economic recovery and we are not contemplating a ‘Hospo-Keeper’ package at this time.”

The aviation sector is also calling for an extension of the scheme after Health Department boss Brendan Murphy predicted international borders would stay shut until 2022.

Virgin Australia and aviation companies have joined unions in writing to the prime minister asking for “AviationKeeper”.

The plan would extend JobKeeper to all aviation workers and be phased out as domestic and international borders are open with flying returning to normal.

Transport Workers’ Union assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh said thousands of families were out of work and thousands more would face a year of uncertainty.

“It makes no sense to remove the wage subsidy lifeline that has kept aviation businesses going and assisted many workers to keep their jobs and pay their bills while planes are grounded,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned businesses to prepare for the wage subsidy scheme to end on March 31.

JobSeeker unemployment benefits are scheduled to be slashed on that date.

Morrison argued there was no such thing as “free money”.

“Australian taxpayers can’t underwrite the Australian economy forever,” he told 4BC radio.

“JobKeeper, JobSeeker, all those big programs that we introduced back in the early part of last year, they did an incredibly important job.

“But we were pretty clear up front that was not something that could be sustained forever.”


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