Cabinet to look at wage subsidy idea
A MASSIVE nationwide wage subsidy is likely to become necessary to avoid a vast portion of the population overwhelming Centrelink to collect unemployment benefits.
Cairns MP Michael Healy said the State Government was working with the Federal Government to establish what was needed to stop businesses from going under.
He said a wage subsidy program that paid at least half a person's salary may be critical to thousands of companies staying afloat.
"At the end of the day, all of these people will be going on the dole anyway," he said.
"There may as well be a partial wage subsidy that covers their mortgage and essentials so they still have a job when this all passes.
"They might not be able to pay their life insurance for a couple of months, that might drop off.
"But as long as the mortgage and the bare essentials are covered, that is really important."
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he understood wage subsidies were being considered among a range of actions by the Federal Cabinet.
"I've already put in a suggestion that we need to be looking at that," he said.
Mr Healy was confident the Far North economy would recover from this crisis as long as the situation was carefully managed.
"When it bounces back, it is going to bounce back really quickly," he said. "It's important that these companies still have staff when that happens."
Senator Nita Green said Far North casual workers in hospitality, tourism and the arts needed urgent support.
"Under current arrangements, casuals have a clear financial incentive to turn up to work when they're sick or should be in isolation," she said. "This could undermine efforts to contain the virus in coming weeks and months.
"Reports that the government is considering a welfare wage is welcome."
Originally published as Cabinet to look at wage subsidy idea