JobKeeper help for charities, not casuals

Charities will find it much easier to access the JobKeeper wage subsidy program but casual workers won’t be so lucky.

Federal Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is under pressure from unions and Labor to extend the $130 billion program to more casual workers.

But he is digging in to ensure the payment is only available to workers with a 12-month link to a single employer.

“The fundamental principle is not going to change,” Mr Porter told ABC radio on Monday.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has suggested casuals should get the payments if they had a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, were it not for the virus.

“I just don’t see that as a workable definition,” Mr Porter said.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says not-for-profit charities can now apply for the benefit if they’ve suffered a 15 per cent hit to revenue because of the pandemic.

But many charities are expected to still miss out because funding is often tied and can’t be shifted around for other purposes.

However the change will see Australia’s largest child care provider Goodstart be eligible for JobKeeper.

The scheme, where workers get a fortnightly pay of $1500 per person through their employers, is set to be approved by parliament on Wednesday.

To be eligible, a for-profit company’s turnover must have fallen by at least 30 per cent.

Businesses with annual turnovers of more than $1 billion must have suffered a 50 per cent or more drop in revenue.

Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce has warned the government against throwing open the cheque book too wide.

“After this is over, with a half-trillion dollars worth of debt, there is debt on top, it has to be paid back and financed,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“You have to be diligent, you can’t just fulfil every requirement. The nation will put itself in a very bad position if it does that.”

COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of 39 Australians, after two more deaths in NSW as well as two more in Victoria.

But a number of states have reported lower numbers of new infections.

A criminal investigation has been launched into the handling of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which has docked near Wollongong on Monday.

NSW police are leading the investigation to see how passengers were allowed to disembark from the ship in Sydney.

The ship is linked to 622 COVID-19 cases and at least 11 deaths across the country.

Australia’s education ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss ways year 12 students can finish high school amid disruptions caused by the virus. 

National cabinet is also meeting on Tuesday to canvass further measures including finalising a code of conduct for commercial leases, and reviewing modelling of the health system’s capacity.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy is urging the public to continue practising safe social distancing given the concern about cases without a known source.

There are more than 5700 cases confirmed cases across the country and the transmission source is unknown for about 10 per cent of them.

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has warned Australians against using dodgy, imported home COVID-19 test kits, saying they pose a risk to public health.

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