WORLD Australian gov't urged to provide additional support for coronavirus-affected areas of economy

WORLD

Australian gov't urged to provide additional support for coronavirus-affected areas of economy

Xinhua

15:36, January 04, 2021

This general view shows seating for restaurants mostly empty along Sydney Harbour, usually packed with locals and tourists on Christmas Eve but now quiet due to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns, in Sydney on December 24, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

CANBERRA, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Opposition Labor Party has urged the federal government to support businesses that continue to be affected by coronavirus with emergency economic support.

Katy Gallagher, Labor's finance spokesperson, on Monday said that the government was withdrawing economic support measures at a time when domestic border restrictions have been reimposed as a result of coronavirus outbreaks.

As of Monday the Jobkeeper economic stimulus payment was cut from 1,200 Australian dollars (924.5 U.S. dollars) per fortnight to 1,000 Australian dollars for workers who normally worked more than 20 hours per week but have been unable to because of the pandemic.

The payment for recipients who normally worked fewer than 20 hours per week was cut from 750 Australian dollars to 650 Australian dollars.

Gallagher said on Monday that the changes would hurt regional communities that are reliant on tourism, calling for the government to "urgently consider options to provide targeted support to hard-hit parts of the economy and ensure those who need financial support continue to receive it."

This picture taken on September 29, 2020 shows Qatar Airlines flight crew members wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus as they walk past an illuminated sign in the Sydney International Airport in Sydney. (Photo: AFP)

"Many business owners are seeing holiday bookings canceled or empty tables in their cafes and restaurants at what is usually their busiest time of the year," she said.

"This is the second time in three months that the Morrison government has cut jobkeeper without a proper plan for jobs, despite the fact that 2.2 million Australians are looking for work or more work and the government expects another 90,000 will join the jobless queues by March."

More than 1.6 million Australians were receiving the Jobkeeper payment in the December quarter, down from a peak of 3.6 million at the height of the pandemic in Australia when all recipients were paid 1,500 Australian dollars per fortnight.

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