The Federal Government will provide an unprecedented wage subsidy to around six million workers, including many throughout regional Australia, says Nationals Leader Michael McCormack.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Riverina MP said the $130 billion JobKeeper payment would shield many regional Australians from losing their jobs.

“This historic announcement goes to the heart of what regional Australians have always stood for – a fair go for everyone,” Mr McCormack said.

“Make no mistake, we are in unchartered waters and facing challenges on two fronts – a health crisis and an economic crisis.

“The Federal Government is doing all it can to save lives and livelihoods during these difficult times.”

Workers will receive a flat payment of $1500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax.

The payment will be open to eligible businesses that receive a significant financial hit caused by the coronavirus.

The payment will provide the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the national median wage. Importantly, for workers in the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors it will equate to a full median replacement wage.

“This payment provides job security for many who have been concerned and anxious about how they will put food on the table for their families,” Mr McCormack said.

“We are facing tough times and I am afraid the going will get tougher in the coming days, weeks and months.

“Regional Australians have shown they are as tough as they come, but the challenges which face us during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis are beyond anything we have faced before.

“It will take all of our mettle and, in particular, our patience and discipline to help slow the spread of this insidious virus so we can come out on the other side as best we possibly can.

“This economic package will help to ensure we do just that.

“We all have a vitally important role to play to save the Australian way of life as we know it.”

The payment will ensure eligible employers and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.

The Government’s total economic support for the economy during this crisis totals $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP.

For the latest updates, please visit www.australia.gov.au.

JobKeeper Payment – the facts

• The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, which will keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the coronavirus outbreak

• The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee who was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer

• Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees

• Employers will receive a payment of $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1500 per fortnight from this business, before tax

• The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May

• The Government will provide updates on further business cashflow support in coming days

• Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period

• Employers with an annual turnover of $1 billion or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent or more to be eligible. Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible

• Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible

• Full-time and part-time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment. An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer

• Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other)

• Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment

• Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via www.ato.gov.au

• Income support partner pay income test – over the next six months the Government is temporarily expanding access to income support payments and establishing a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.

• JobSeeker Payment is subject to a partner income test. The Government is temporarily relaxing the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment, and associated Coronavirus Supplement, providing their partner earns less than $3068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum.

• The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.

Every arm of government and industry is working to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business, and to build a bridge to recovery on the other side.

The Government will continue to do what it takes to ensure that Australia bounces back stronger.