Businesses welcome JobKeeper 2.0

By Adrienne Hartnett

Local businesses in the local community have welcomed the federal government announcement of the six-month extension of JobKeeper payments. 

The nationwide changes mean it will be easier for businesses hurt by coronavirus to apply for JobKeeper. 

Staff who were employed as of July 1 will now be able to access the program and businesses will now only have to show turnover has significantly fallen for the September quarter, compared to the same period last year.

Small businesses, particularly those in hospitality, will benefit from JobKeeper 2.0 with the wage subsidy extended from September to March 28, 2021.

From October to December, the payment will reduce to a fortnightly rate of $1200 from $1500 per full time employee and $750 for employees working 20 hours or less per week. 

From January to March that payment will reduce again to $1000 for full time employees and $650 for part-timers. 

Victoria Hotel Rutherglen owner Dave Wilson acknowledged that without JobKeeper, his business would simply not survive.

With the reintroduction of stage three restrictions, Mr Wilson had to once again close his business and offer takeaway meals only. 

“The extension of payments will offer us continued security moving forward. They will allow us to keep trading,” Mr Wilson told The Free Press.

“The recent border closures were hard enough. We saw an 80 percent drop in trade because we are a tourist town.

“We had to lay off staff due to reduced patronage. We went from being able to cater for 150 people on a Friday night to just 20 people.”

Mr Wilson said the payments allowed some staff to take on greater roles within the business.  

“One of our girls was a cleaner on minimal hours and now, because of JobKeeper, she is in working in other parts of the business and doing a full-time role. It’s been beneficial for her as well as for us,” he said.

In Corowa, Green Bean Café co-owner Jade Brown said the JobKeeper expansion would reduce stress financially after having to find more staff to cover shifts due to border closures. 

“We won’t have to fork out money we don’t have,” Ms Brown said. 

“It’s been tough. We made the difficult decision to close two days a week because of staffing issues. JobKeeper has definitely helped our business and our staff get through this.” 

Corowa RSL Club CEO Peter Norris acknowledged that without JobKeeper, the ripple effect it would have on his staff and the club community would be detrimental.  

“Without the JobKeeper subsidy, Corowa RSL could simply not continue to employ the large number of local people we currently do. The flow-on from that would add additional pressures to a local economy that is already suffering,” Mr Norris said. 

“The Jobkeeper subsidy is allowing us to continue trading five days a week. For many in our community, the Corowa RSL Club is a place of connection, if we were to close again for any period of time I would fear for the wellbeing of our staff and our customers.”