JobKeeper question that got PM fired up

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said claims his JobKeeper scheme has missed those in the arts industry are "not true" during a fiery exchange with 7.30's Leigh Sales.

The at-times tense interview on Tuesday night covered everything from the changes to the wage subsidy scheme to the Victorian government's handling of the second coronavirus wave and whether Mr Morrison was wearing a mask.

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Sales quizzed the PM on whether JobKeeper was doing enough to keep those in universities and the arts industry employed.

"We can take the arts, film, TV, books, music that's really sustained people a lot during the lockdown," Sales said

"That sector contributes billions to the Australian economy and employ 600,000 people. Fewer than half are eligible for JobKeeper."

"That's not true," Mr Morrison interrupted, arguing that JobKeeper had been a "lifeline" for a number of arts workers and JobSeeker payments were available for those it did not cover.

Mr Morrison also defended his government's COVIDSafe app, which he had urged Australians to download when it was launched earlier this year, claiming it would help end lockdowns.

But instead the app has been heavily criticised given it has so far been unsuccessful in identifying any close contacts not already found through manual tracing.

Asked by Sales whether it was time to "bin the app", Mr Morrison said the suggestion was "ridiculous" and "politically opportunistic".

"That would be dangerous," he said. "What it does is it works with the manual tracing, the two go together.

Mr Morrison claimed the app had been able to identify "hundreds and hundreds" of cases that had also been confirmed by manual tracing.

The COVIDSafe app has been heavily criticised. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch.
The COVIDSafe app has been heavily criticised. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch.

In places of high coronavirus transmission in Victoria the app simply hadn't been downloaded enough, Mr Morrison said.

"In many other states and territories, they haven't had any cases for community transmission where it could have provided any role because you're able to track the source to a quarantine case or something of that nature," he said.

"So I found the COVIDSafe sledges that have been coming a little bit politically opportunistic."

Mr Morrison also revealed he had worn a mask for the first time during a medical appointment.

 

 

"I went to see an optometrist and I wore it during the consultation," he said.

In Melbourne and Mitchell Shire masks will be mandatory from Wednesday 11.59pm while NSW residents are being advised to wear masks in public spaces where it is difficult to practise social distancing.

"If you went to go see the Sharks play would you wear a mask now given what's happening?" Sales quizzed.

"Well that would all depend," Mr Morrison replied. "The recommendation in NSW is if you are unable to have social distancing in place then you should. And if that were the case then I would."

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, talking about the future of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, talking about the future of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Earlier on Tuesday Scott Morrison announced sweeping changes to the JobKeeper scheme in a move that would see more than two million workers kicked off the wage subsidy.

Payments will be reduced from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight while companies will need to complete a new turnover test.

Businesses must prove they are still 30 per cent down on normal turnovers over two quarters.

The changes will come into effect from September 28.

A new part time rate will also be offered to casuals, with part-time workers getting $750 a fortnight under the changes.

Mr Morrison said JobKeeper was a "game changer" subsidy that had saved thousands of jobs.

"Already just over $30 billion has been provided in support through the JobKeeper Program to almost a million businesses - 960,000, thereabouts - supporting some 3.5 million employees,'' he told reporters.

"The review has found … that has been well targeted, it has been effective in stemming the loss of business closures and job losses, that it has saved businesses and it has saved livelihoods.

"That is the feedback that I have been getting direct as I have spoken to Australians, employees, employers, all around the country. It has been the game-changer for them."

 

Originally published as JobKeeper question that got PM fired up