Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the taxpayer funded package on Tuesday as Sydneysiders endure their third week of a harsh lockdown, with no end in sight and an extension likely to be brought in before Friday.
The announcement prompted a scathing reply from Dan Andrews who claimed Victorians were ‘sick and tired’ of having to beg the federal government for support.
But the government hit back saying Victoria received the same support for its most recent two week lockdown as NSW has had for the last fortnight, with the new policy also available to any state who experiences restrictions from now on.
‘Everyone in Australia believes that people in Sydney and NSW deserve every possible support as they battle a second wave and a long lockdown,’ Mr Andrews said in a statement.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (pictured) said a new funding package for NSW residents under lockdown was the federal government playing favourites
NSW recorded 89 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the latest outbreak of the highly infectious Indian Delta strain to 767 cases – leaving Sydney’s lockdown likely to be extended (pictured, a near empty George Street in the city’s CBD on Tuesday)
‘But Victorians are rightly sick and tired of having to beg for every scrap of support from the federal government.’
‘It shouldn’t take a crisis in Sydney for the Prime Minister to take action but we are seeing the same double standard, time and time again.’
A government spokesman soon rubbished the claims, saying Mr Andrews should spend more time trying to find solutions rather than ‘politicising’ the issue.
‘The NSW government has worked constructively with the Commonwealth to support their households and businesses,’ a government spokesman said.
‘While the Victorian government’s politicised approach has unfortunately been to issue decrees by media instead of picking up the phone to find solutions as a partnership.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured together) announced the support package on Tuesday
A locked down Sydney is seen on Tuesday (pictured) with no end in sight for current restrictions as Covid cases swell, particularly in the city’s south-west
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg pointed out Victoria actually received more per capita than NSW in JobKeeper payments at $4,220 compared to $3,684.
However, the new round of JobKeeper-style payments announce by Mr Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday go above and beyond arrangements during Victoria’s most recent lockdown.
‘Clearly, here in NSW, the situation has taken a very different turn,’ Mr Morrison said in Sydney.
‘We think this gives people the encouragement to see it through.’
He said the support is in the national interest and the new model for federal government support will be offered to any other state or territory that experiences an extended lockdown – including Victoria if it were to experience another outbreak.
Victoria’s outbreak lasted for 112 days last year, leaving many businesses forced to close.
‘What I’m announcing today is an upgrading of the Commonwealth Government’s national response,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘It is certainly our hope and ambition that we would not see lockdowns extending to other states and territories but Covid-19 will set those rules.’
89 new cases were found in Sydney on Tuesday, with 10 cases now linked to a Bondi apartment block (pictured, a health worker at the apartments on Tuesday)
He added: ‘As lockdowns extend into another week in NSW, households and businesses need this assistance to get them through the lockdown to the other side, ready to reopen.’
From week four of a lockdown in a declared hotspot, the disaster payment will increase to $600 if a person has lost 20 or more hours of work a week, or $375 for between eight and less than 20 hours of work a week foregone.
A direct payment to small to medium businesses earning between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover compared to 2019.
From Sunday these business will be eligible for 40 per cent of their payroll payments, at a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $10,000 per week
However this is provided they don’t sack any staff.
‘We expect people to honour their commitments. It’s not in any NSW employer’s interest to leave staff behind at the moment.’ Mr Morrison said.
Not-for-profit organisations will receive between $1,500 and $10,000 per week based on the level of their payroll.
For sole traders, the payment will be set at $1,000 per week.
The new funding package is being paid for half and half by the federal and NSW state governments (pictured, Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday)
Sydney businesses (pictured in lockdown on Tuesday) are doing it tough with locals unable to venture out of their homes for anything but essential reasons
‘I’m grateful for the speed with which the Commonwealth has responded to the issues we raised,’ NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Payments will be made available across NSW, with the costs shared half and half between the NSW and federal governments.
There is also a $17.35 million mental health support package for NSW including for services through Lifeline, headspace and Kid’s Helpline.
In addition, from next Monday the Covid-19 Disaster Payment will also be available to those outside hotspot areas if they can prove they meet the criteria.
This part of the package is funded by the NSW government.
What are the main financial supports available in lockdown?
* Any states or territories in an extended lockdown will benefit from a new support package, with NSW being the first state entitled to it.
* From week four of a lockdown because of a Commonwealth government declared hotspot, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will increase to $600 if a person has lost 20 or more hours of work a week or $375 if a person has lost between eight and less than 20 hours of work a week.
* The Commonwealth and NSW have also agreed that from July 18 the disaster payment will be available to those outside Commonwealth declared hotspots in NSW that meet the criteria for the payment.
* The NSW government will fund any payments outside a Commonwealth declared hotspot, with the Commonwealth continuing to fund payments to recipients in a Commonwealth declared hotspot.
* A new business support payment will also be available to entities with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.
* To receive the payment, eligible entities will be required to maintain their full time, part time and long term casual staffing level as of July 13.
* Eligible entities, which includes not-for-profits, will receive payments of between $1500 and $10,000 per week based on the level of their payroll.
* For non-employing businesses, such as sole traders, the payment will be set at $1,000 per week.
Mr Morrison ruled out another early access to superannuation scheme.
Sydney’s lockdown was due to end on Friday but Ms Berejiklian has said this is highly unlikely to happen.
NSW recorded 89 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the latest outbreak of the highly infectious Indian Delta strain to 767 cases.
The NSW government will separately offer rent relief for commercial and residential tenants and payroll tax deferrals for businesses.
The state’s treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced that there would be no evictions for commercial tenants.
Sydney’s Martin Place station in the CBD (pictured on Tuesday) would be bustling with commuters but has been eerily quiet
Also for 60 days there would be no evictions for private residents who have experienced a reduction in income of at least 25 per cent.
Mr Perrottet estimated the total value of the support for NSW businesses including previously announced packages would be about $5.1billion.
Economists have estimated the cost of the lockdown at $1billion a week, even with many businesses still open.
The prime minister joined community leaders on a Zoom call as the outbreak spreads into Sydney’s west where language barriers are feared to have prevented the stay at home message from getting through.
‘Stay at home. Get vaccinated. That’s it,’ Mr Morrison said.
A second death was recorded from the latest outbreak, a man aged in his 70s from the eastern suburbs.
How to claim the $600 lockdown payment if you lose work
Sydney residents who lose more than 20 hours of work a week can claim a $600 disaster payment from the federal government, and those who lose less than 20 hours can claim $375.
To claim the cash you’ll need a Centrelink online account linked to your myGov. It’s easy to set these up.
Once you’re logged in, you will be asked a few questions about your situation to see if you’re eligible.
Officials need to know if you lived or worked in a Covid-19 hotspot that’s under lockdown or restricted movement.
Once you’ve completed your claim, hit submit and officials will process it for you.
You don’t need to call them, they’ll send you an SMS when you successfully submit your claim.
If you are eligible, officials will make a payment into your bank account and send you a letter with the details.
For more information click here
Regional NSW is also at risk, with a case confirmed at a Goulburn construction site that has now been shut down and workers sent into isolation.
With the rapid spread of the Indian Delta variant across households, Sydney’s lockdown is likely to continue beyond Friday and into at least a fourth week.
Tougher restrictions are being brought in for Sydney’s southwest after a surge in infected family groups, with essential workers in the Fairfield local government area required to get a COVID test every three days.
Federal and state health authorities have also continued to urge younger people not eligible for Pfizer vaccines to talk to a doctor about getting AstraZeneca.
Economists have estimated the cost of the lockdown at $1billion a week (pictured, a closed down shop in the Sydney CBD on Tuesday)
A national expert panel has reassessed its advice as community transmission increases but maintained its position on Tuesday on preferring the Pfizer vaccine for people under the age of 60.
But after weighing up the risks from the Delta variant, if Pfizer supplies remain unavailable then people should think about getting protection from AstraZeneca, officials said.
People in an outbreak area getting AstraZeneca are advised to cut the gap between the two required doses to four to eight weeks, not 12 weeks.
What extra support is NSW providing during lockdown?
· An extension to the previously announced business grants program. This means eligible businesses with Australian wages below $10 million can claim grants between $7,500 and $15,000 to cover the first three-weeks of restrictions, and takes the potential size of the program to $2.1 billion;
· Payroll tax waivers of 25 per cent for businesses with Australian wages of between $1.2 million and $10 million that have experienced a 30 per cent decline in turnover, as well as payroll tax deferrals and interest free repayment plans;
· A new grants program for micro businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 which experience a decline in turnover of 30 per cent. The businesses will be eligible for a $1500 payment per fortnight of restrictions.
· A capped grant of up to $1,500 for residential landlords who are not liable to pay land tax who reduce rent for tenants estimated at $210 million;
· Land tax relief equal to the value of rent reductions provided by commercial, retail and residential landlords to financially distressed tenants, up to 100 per cent of the 2021 land tax year liability;
· Introduction of legislative amendments to ensure a short-term eviction moratorium for rental arrears where a residential tenant suffers loss of income of 25 per cent due to Covid-19 and meets a range of criteria.
· No recovery of security bonds, or lockouts or evictions of impacted retail and commercial tenants prior to mediation;
· Deferral of gaming tax assessments for clubs until 21 December 2021 and hotels until 21 January 2021;
· A $75 million support package for the performing arts sector to be administered by Create NSW;
· A support package for the accommodation sector worth $26 million;
· $12 million in additional funding for temporary accommodation for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and
· $5.1 million in NSW funding to support mental health.
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