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Lockdown income support packages to be revealed

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The state government will today unveil the details of its support package for South Australian businesses affected by the seven-day lockdown while the federal government is set to provide back payments from next week to workers in metropolitan Adelaide who have lost hours.

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Commonwealth chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly on Tuesday afternoon declared all of metropolitan Adelaide, Gawler and the Adelaide Hills a COVID hotspot – triggering Federal Government COVID-19 disaster payments for workers in those areas.

From next Wednesday, workers who lose between eight hours and 20 hours of work during the first week of lockdown will be eligible for a $375 back payment.

Those who have lost more than 20 hours will be eligible for $600.

Finance Minister and South Australian senator Simon Birmingham said Services Australia is able to process applications “quickly” and more than 388,000 disaster payments have already been made in locked-down New South Wales.

“These payments are made in arrears on an ongoing weekly basis so long as the hotspot definition and the lockdown requirements remain in place,” Birmingham told reporters on Tuesday.

“Application details will be released over the coming days and information provided on the Services Australia website.”

But the disaster payments will not be available to those outside of the Commonwealth designated hotspot areas, with the State Government expected to foot the bill for restrictions affecting the rest of SA.

“The NSW Government – and similarly in relation to Victoria – is picking up the tab for those outside of the Commonwealth hotspot zones,” Birmingham said.

“Obviously those same arrangements will exist in relation to SA.”

State Treasurer Rob Lucas said the State Government had argued to the Commonwealth that the whole of South Australia should have been eligible for support.

“Our argument had been ‘we’ve declared the whole state as locked down and therefore the whole state should be considered as a hotspot’,” Lucas told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“But the Commonwealth Government, I think consistent with decisions it’s taken in other states, hasn’t agreed.”

Lucas said he would announce the details of an assistance package for all South Australian small businesses on Wednesday.

“We’re now looking at what we can do to try and assist those in areas not covered by the Commonwealth Government,” he said.

“We want to try and make it as simple as we can in terms of processing the considerations of the scheme, we’re looking at what we’ve done previously in terms of eligibility for cash grant payments.”

Lucas said the State Government can negotiate with the Commonwealth on “potentially sharing some of the cost” if the lockdown lasts longer than two weeks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he worked with Premier Steven Marshall on Tuesday night to work through the details of the disaster payments program.

“The premier and I have been working on that last night just as I was with the Victorian premier last week and the NSW premier before that,” Morrison told FiveAA on Wednesday.

“In both of those states, those payments go right across the state.

“So I’ll leave that to the South Australian Government to make various announcements there.”

Morrison said the disaster payments are at the same level as JobKeeper was in the December quarter of last year.

“It’s a more targeted way of getting payments to people more quickly,” he said.

“Then of course there’s the business challenges, I know the State Government will be speaking to that today.

“And if … the lockdown goes into a longer period, then we have a national program which shares the program for business cashflow assistance as well.”

The state-wide shutdown will see tens of thousands of workers stood down across SA with pubs, cafes, restaurants and all “non-essential” retail closed until at least July 27.

It is the first South Australian lockdown after the Federal Government wage subsidy scheme, JobKeeper, ended on March 31.

Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas said the State Government should follow the NSW and Victorian Governments in providing financial assistance state-wide.

“The state-wide lockdown affects the entire state, and regional South Australian workers and businesses shouldn’t miss out on financial support,” he said.

“It shouldn’t matter where you live, everyone should receive the same support.”

Business SA CEO Martin Haese said businesses across the state were not likely to recover the losses incurred during the shutdown.

“Fortunately, the seven-day state-wide lockdown is likely to activate Federal Government support, as announced last week. However, we look to the State Government to also provide support,” Haese said.

“Even with Federal and State Government support, businesses are not likely to recover the losses associated with a seven-day lockdown.”

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