Australia’s JobSeeker Covid-19 welfare payment extended till March with slight cuts

File photo: People are seen crossing a street at Sydney CBD (January, 2020)

Australia’s Federal Government has extended its Covid-19 unemployment welfare program (JobSeeker) for three months. JobSeeker was introduced at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic to help unemployed Australians navigate the crisis, and was due to expire in Dececmber. PM Scott Morrison, on Tuesday, announced the government’s decision to extend the supplement until March, 2021 – with a slight reduction.

From January, 2021, JobSeeker payments will reduce by $100 a fortnight – from $815 a fortnight to $715 a fortnight. PM Morrison said the scheme would cost taxpayers around $3.2 billion over a three-month period.

Currently, an estimated 1.5 million people receive JobSeeker payments. They can earn up to $300 a fortnight before there are deductions to the payment.

Meanwhile, PM Morrison is fronting dual pressure – from the Federal Opposition and the Coalition. The Coalition believes JobSeeker is acting as a deterrent for people to actively seek employment, and therefore racking up deficit, whereas the Opposition believes there should be no reduction on the coronavirus supplement.