Coronavirus: Kiwis eligible for new Australian ‘Jobkeeper’ wage subsidy


Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Jacinda Ardern in Sydney earlier this year.

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Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Jacinda Ardern in Sydney earlier this year.

Kiwis at risk of losing jobs in Australia because of coronavirus will be eligible for a huge new wage subsidy scheme worth $1530 a fortnight.

But most completely unemployed New Zealanders will remain ineligible for wider help from the Australian welfare system.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the “jobkeeper” subsidy on Monday, which pays out A$1500 (NZ$1530) a fortnight for employers to keep employees “on the books”.

This is a similar design to New Zealand’s job subsidy scheme, but is considerably more generous – New Zealand’s pays out $1170 a fortnight, although employers are expected to top that up to 80 per cent of regular pay if they are able.

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The scheme will be open to Kiwis on “special category visas” – almost every New Zealander who has moved to Australia without upgrading to citizenship.

Morrison said the huge package the scheme was a part of would provide an “economic lifeline” for Australia.

“We will pay employers to pay their employees,” he said.

“Our government has made a decision today that no government has made before.”

The scheme is costed to last for up to six months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she spoke to Morrison on Monday morning about the status of Kiwis in Australia.

“It’s great New Zealanders who work and pay tax in Australia will be covered by their version of the wage subsidy scheme,” she said about the development.

“New Zealand is also supporting Australians working and paying tax here with our wage subsidy package. 

“New Zealanders are a core part of the Australian workforce. Many are working on the front line in essential services. Others have built their careers there and paid taxes for years, so it’s really pleasing the Australia Government has agreed to provide them a wage subsidy at their time of need,” she said. 

Ardern has been pushing for all Kiwis living in Australia to have full access to their welfare system, as Australians living in New Zealand do with New Zealand’s.

According to 9 News, payments would flow to businesses in the first week of May and will be backdated to March 30.

Workers stood down since March 1 would be eligible.

Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the country was facing an economic and health war.

“The past weeks have been tough but the weeks ahead will be tougher,” he said.

“Australians know that no matter how great the challenge is, our government has their back.”