Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has given his strongest hint yet that the JobSeeker payment will continue to be boosted next year.
In April the government doubled the fortnightly payment to $1,100 as thousands lost their jobs due to coronavirus restrictions.
The $550 boost has now decreased to $250 and is due to end at the end of December.
In April the government doubled the dole payment to $1,100 as thousands lost their jobs due to coronavirus restrictions
But Mr Fydenberg on Friday said his government is ‘leaning’ towards extending the boost.
‘As a government, later this year, we’ll make a decision about further support for people in JobSeeker, but we’re leaning in on continuing to provide support,’ he told reporters.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has said the government would not make a call until it could see the impact of the reduction.
‘We will not be making announcements in budget,’ she told reporters last week.
‘We don’t know what Australia is going to look like on the other side of this pandemic. We don’t know when it’s going to end.’
‘So we will remain agile and we will continue to provide the support that is needed for Australia and Australians.’
About 1.5 million Australians are on JobSeeker, including people on unemployed, sickness and bereavement benefits.
Labor wants the base rate of JobSeeker to be increased but will not say by how much.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has said the government would not make a call over the support payment until later this year
Mr Frydenberg on Friday said the federal budget deficit hit $85.3 billion in 2019/20 as the government wrestled with the initial impact of the virus.
He said Australia had approached the pandemic from a position of economic strength, having in December forecast a $5 billion surplus.
‘Yes, the hole in the Australian economy is significant. Yes, the road back will be long, bumpy and hard,’ Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.
The figure sets the base for this year’s budget to be delivered on October 6, which will focus on measures to boost aggregate demand and business investment.
JobKeeper will face changes from Monday, when the rate will decrease to $1,200 per fortnight and be split into two-tiers for full time and part time workers.
It came as Covid-19 infection rates continued to fall across Australia, prompting NSW and Queensland to further ease restrictions.
Victoria had 14 new cases on Friday and eight deaths.
But Premier Daniel Andrews has tempered hopes of wholesale changes to Melbourne’s road map out of lockdown.
Mr Andrews said Sunday would not be a day for major steps despite some easing of restrictions on gatherings, workplaces and schools.