Home Australia More federal COVID-19 support announced as Melbourne braces for expected lockdown

More federal COVID-19 support announced as Melbourne braces for expected lockdown

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says increased Commonwealth payments to individuals and businesses from week two of a lockdown will be proposed at National Cabinet tomorrow.

It would fast-track emergency COVID-19 payments of $600 and $375 made to individuals from the second week of a lockdown, rather than four weeks in.

A support payment for individuals would also be made for the first week if a lockdown was extended, with it to be paid in arrears from the second week.

Liquid assets tests, which previously excluded people with more than $10,000 in savings or other liquid assets, will also be waived from the outset.

It sets payment arrangements to the same level as they were for JobKeeper in December last year.

Business payments jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state governments, announced for NSW yesterday, will be made available after the second week of a lockdown.

Businesses that have a turnover between $75,000 and $50 million and lose more than 30 per cent of their turnover in the first fortnight of a lockdown will be eligible for up to $10,000 weekly payments.

JobKeeper ‘more difficult’ to reintroduce than new plan

Mr Morrison described the changes to the COVID disaster and business support payments as “improvements”.

“I will be putting to National Cabinet tomorrow … a new, we think, streamlined set of financial supports for states and territories going forward,” he said.

“When we look at what’s been occurring and what may occur … we have to set up rules that apply right across the country.”

The federal government faced criticism this week for announcing increased support for NSW that the Victorian government said was refused to it when Melbourne locked down in May.

When asked whether today’s announcement was a reflection the previous agreement between the Commonwealth and states had failed, Mr Morrison said the Delta variant was forcing states into lockdowns more quickly than before.

“I think Australians understand that dealing with COVID-19 doesn’t come with a rule book,” he said.

“That’s why we keep meeting together, that’s why we keep working together, why we keep upgrading and updating what we’re doing.”

Mr Morrison said it would be “absolutely more difficult” to reintroduce the JobKeeper program instead of developing a new plan.

The Prime Minister also announced the Medicare telehealth network will be immediately reestablished in locked-down Greater Sydney, with a revived Medicare benefits schedule to subsidise longer consultations for people with chronic conditions.

It comes as another lockdown in Melbourne is expected after two new COVID-19 cases were found in the state, bringing the total number of local cases to 16.

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