The government has conceded some workers now getting wage subsidies will be pushed into unemployment when the JobKeeper scheme ends.
And Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter says it would be wrong to think everything could shift back to a pre-pandemic state at the end of September.
“Some of the jobs that are being supported through that wage subsidy are not going to be sustainable in the long run,” he told the Council for Economic Development of Australia’s online State of the Nation conference on Tuesday.
“There will be a shift between JobKeeper and JobSeeker at some point and to some degree.”
His remarks come a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there would be jobs and businesses lost once the government supports were removed.
There are now 1.6 million people on the JobSeeker unemployment benefits – about double the number before the crisis – and another three million Australians receiving JobKeeper payments through their employer.
Mr Morrison told the forum on Monday that keeping wage subsidies and other support measures in place for too long would damage the super-charged growth Australia needs to escape the crisis.
The JobKeeper scheme is legislated until September but is being reviewed, with the outcome to be announced on July 23.
It has ended early for the child care sector, which the government has moved on to a separate support plan.
“The idea that things will return seamlessly to the way they were six months after JobKeeper commenced is just a false apprehension and we have to plan ourselves and work ourselves out of this, not just hope for the best,” Mr Porter said.
The minister cautioned that governments had limited resources and had to apply them for maximum effect.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said there were clearly big sections of the economy that would still be more or less in stasis when September arrived.
She warned workers wouldn’t stand for permanent pay cuts as the Australian economy recovered from coronavirus.
While industrial relations changes had been needed to deal with the crisis, it was important not to conflate that with what would be needed in the future as the system was reformed.
“If we let these discussions get coloured or affected by the current situation, we could then be building solutions that are really crisis solutions,” Ms McManus told the CEDA forum.
“The union movement clearly won’t have a lot of patience if some employers come and say they want changes because of the current situation and for those to be permanent.”
But she said workplace laws could have a role to play in preventing a second wave of coronavirus infections, which would be “unthinkable” for the economy.