Australian PM offers federal Covid-19 disaster payments

By Te Ao - Māori News

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison meeting New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a federal disaster package for those caught up in Victoria's seven-day Covid-19 lockdown extension.

The seven-day lockdown extension was confirmed on Wednesday, June 2, with the latest outbreak of positive cases swelling to 69. Victoria's fourth and current lockdown originally began on Thursday, May 27.

Morrison who had just been in New Zealand has introduced the temporary Covid-19 disaster payment for circumstances where lockdowns are imposed by Australian states for longer than seven days.

“So the first seven days, they are matters entirely for state and territory governments, as they wish to provide support," says Morrison.

“If a lockdown, as a result of a state public health order continues in an area that is also defined by the chief officer of the Commonwealth, then we will be providing support for payments for those affected and those affected areas.”

A payment of $500 is for those who would ordinarily work more than 20 hours in a week, and $325 for those who would work less than 20 hours a week.

When people can't work

Payments can be arranged through Centrelink from Monday, June 7, and will be made on a week by week basis.

It will only kick in when people can’t work and have less than $10,000 in liquid assets. It cannot be combined with other welfare or coronavirus support payments from the federal government.

 “Where those have independent means of supporting themselves for a week then I think they would agree that reaching out for Commonwealth taxpayer-funded assistance is not something they would consider reasonable for such a short period of time,” Mr Morrison said.

The payment only applies to people who are at least 17 years old. They have to be Australian citizens, residents or visa holders with a right to work here. They do not have to have used up all their annual leav, but must have “insufficient other entitlements” such as pandemic sick leave.