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Calls to extend JobKeeper grow louder

By Brayden May

THERE are fears some Rochester businesses may not survive the second round of stage three restrictions.

Rochester's political leaders are calling on the Federal Government to extend the full $1500 JobKeeper payment, which will be reduced to $1200 at the end of September.

It comes after the Federal Government announced it was easing the JobKeeper eligibility criteria.

Under the changes, businesses will only need to show that their GST turnover had fallen over one quarter, instead of multiple ones, and workers will also qualify if they were employed on July 1, rather than March 1.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government has announced businesses in regional Victoria may be eligible for a $5000 payment if they are affected by the stage three shutdown.

State Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the Federal Government was going to have to review the JobKeeper payments for Victoria given recent announcements from the Victorian Government.

He said there was now “a strong argument the tens of thousands of Victorians who have just been thrown out of work must get extended full support from JobKeeper, not the scaled down version Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced to start at the end of next month.

“Victoria will feel let down by Premier Daniel Andrews that it has had to come to this for the people of Northern Victoria.”

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the long-term effects of these restrictions on business owners, both mentally and financially, were a cause for concern.

While he was confident JobKeeper would continue to help those who were in need of the payment, he said the Victorian Government should allow ‘‘clean’’ regional communities, such as Northern Victoria and Mildura, to continue trading.

‘‘It’s very disappointing all of regional Victoria has been lumped into one entity,’’ he said.

‘‘If we can stay clean (from the virus), we’ll be able to make a substantial claim back.’’

Campaspe Shire Mayor Adrian Weston said he hoped the Federal Government would re-think its decision to reduce the payment at the end of next month.

“It's simply not going to be business as usual two weeks after the stage three restrictions are potentially lifted,” Cr Weston said.

“The longer these payments can go on for, the better it would be for the longevity of our businesses.

“We need financial certainty going forward, and that the moment we don't have that.

“Hopefully there can be some positive discussions in the coming weeks.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government was looking at eligibility for JobKeeper to ensure suffering businesses were not overlooked

‘‘We don’t want businesses that have been really badly hit through the September period, but may not have met the 30 per cent threshold in the June period (ineligible for JobKeeper),’’ he said.

‘‘We want to make sure we can get support to them as well.’’

To provide extra support, the Federal Government also announced a “disaster payment” would be available to Victorians who needed to self-isolate for 14 days but did not have enough sick leave left to ensure they had “no economic reason” to go to work.

This payment can be accessed multiple times.

At this time, Campapse Shire is also encouraging businesses to diversify and expand, or even just start up, with $25,000 of available funding support through round one of the business assistance grant program.

Funding is available in four categories, including start-up/new, small business, medium business and large business, with applications open until Friday, September 18.

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