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PM delays announcement of JobKeeper extension

written by Adam Thorn | June 29, 2020
Qantas A330-303 'VH-QPJ' parked at the International Terminal
A Qantas A330-303 ‘VH-QPJ’ (Josh Deitz)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted he will hold off announcing whether to extend the JobKeeper scheme for the aviation industry after it expires in September.

However, he clarified on Monday that there will definitely be a “next phase” of support, though the government will take its time in deciding its composition.

The Prime Minister had previously promised the scheme will be reviewed at the end of June, with many hoping an announcement could be imminent. Now The Sydney Morning Herald reports a decision won’t come until 23 July.

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“There’s still a lot of work to do there and that’s what we’re focused on,” PM Morrison said on Monday. “There are many moving parts in this, this is not a simple issue.”

On Friday, he gave his strongest signal yet that the aviation industry would benefit.

“Whether it be Qantas or those in the entertainment sector or the tourism, hospitality sector, or regions like north Queensland, we get it, we understand that they are going to be hurting more for longer than other parts of the economy,” the PM said.

Last week, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce revealed he has personally asked for industry support beyond September. The business announced then it was set to axe 6,000 staff, or roughly 20 per cent of the workforce.

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The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-effected business with $1,500 per employee, per fortnight.

Companies are then legally obliged to pass that payment onto workers in a bid to keep the economy active during the pandemic.

Recently, both the TWU and Australian Federation of Air Pilots have lobbied the government to extend the initiative.

AFAP president Louise Pole said, “The likelihood that international operations will resume in any meaningful way before September is remote and our highly-skilled airline pilot members are currently in a severe financial situation.”

More generally, the scheme has proved problematic for much of the aviation industry.

Many airport workers are locked out of the financial package because their firms are council-owned; while staff at dnata were similarly told they were no longer eligible because their company is owned by a foreign government.

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