Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's belief that "most people" will be off the JobKeeper program by the end of March, rendering it no longer fit for purpose, fails the hundreds of thousands of Victorians facing uncertainty and anxiety as the program nears its end.
The Treasurer yesterday said new preliminary data from the Australian Taxation Office indicates there were about 140,000 fewer businesses on the wage subsidy program in January compared to the previous month, and nearly 600,000 fewer individuals.
That's fine for everyone - except Victorians who still bear the scars of three devastating lockdowns, including the so-called five-day circuit breaker implemented less than two weeks ago.
ATO data shows that at the end of the September quarter, Victorians made up 28.3 per cent of Australian workers receiving JobKeeper.
Treasury now expects the number of people relying on the payment in the March quarter to be about 1.1 million, and it's reasonable to suggest that figure includes more Victorians than any other state or territory.
Mr Frydenberg believes the majority of these 1.1 million workers will keep their jobs, but the chilling message from all this is that a significant proportion may not. How many, and from which states or territories remains to be seen, but again, Victoria looks to be the state where jobs are otherwise most at risk.
JobKeeper may no longer be "fit for purpose" post-March as the Treasurer insists, but what does this mean for several hundred thousand Victorian workers who stand to lose access to the support payment.
The Treasurer has hinted at future targeted support. Victoria needs to be in his sights, more than ever, as the federal government seeks to transition the economy away from JobKeeper in the lead up to the expected May federal budget.
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