Josh Frydenberg: Covid-19 disaster payments rolled back

Sep 29, 2021
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has released a statement announcing that Covid-19 disaster payments will be cut. Source: Getty

The power struggle between Australia’s State and Federal Governments is intensifying again, with news that Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg plans to wind back Covid-19 disaster payments at 70 per cent fully vaccinated. Each of the state premiers have agreed to eventually stop border closures, lockdowns and reopen entirely once they hit the 80 per cent vaccination target.

Over the last few months, there has been a very public power battle between the Federal and State Governments over lockdowns, with federal cabinet members frequently making accusations that state premiers are acting to maintain their power, rather than to maintain their state’s health.

How will the roll-back work?

The process announced by Frydenberg states that once 70 per cent of the eligible over 16’s population has been vaccinated, only people living in Commonwealth declared Covid-19 ‘hotspots’ will be eligible for the Covid-19 disaster payment.

Frydenberg’s statement expanded: “Once a state or territory reaches 70 per cent full vaccination, the automatic renewal of the temporary payment will end and individuals will have to reapply each week that a Commonwealth Hotspot remains in place to confirm their eligibility.”

That is, until that ‘hotspot’ population has reached the 80 per cent vaccination benchmark agreed upon by National Cabinet.  Upon reaching this 80 per cent target, those who received the payment will receive two consecutive weekly final instalments. The first week, recipients will be given $450 if they have lost more than eight hours of work. In the second week, this will drop to just $320 as the final payment.

Those on income support programs will receive only $100 in the first week, and no extra Covid-19 disaster payment during the second week.

When are the states going to reach their 80 per cent fully-vaccinated targets?

Australian Capital Territory currently has the highest vaccination rate in Australia, with 62.2 per cent of population double dosed. Closely following ACT is New South Wales with 61.7 per cent of their population having received two doses. Tasmania is coming third in this vaccination race, with 57.1 per cent of all eligible Tasmanians vaccinated against Covid-19.

Northern Territorian’s are 51.5 per cent fully vaccinated. Tying for fifth place is both South Australia and Victoria, with both having 48.4 per cent of their population having received their second jab.

Lagging behind are both Queensland and Western Australia, with just 45.6 per cent and 45.3 per cent of their respective populations fully vaccinated.

This data is accurate at as 11am, September 29, 2021. 

How it currently works:

Currently, these payments are being paid to people impacted by temporary loss of employment during Covid-19 outbreaks, by way of either a temporary increase to a current payment, like Job Seeker or Youth Allowance, or Job Keeper, to ensure people remain employed while their business is closed due to shutdowns. So far, the payments have handed out $9.25 billion to more than 2 million people so far since June, 2021.  This is in addition to the more than $300 billion that was paid between April 2020, and June 2021.

Do you think that this announcement will stop premiers from implementing snap lockdowns and border closures?

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