Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged businesses to hang on for a few more days, as his government finalises a wage subsidy scheme to allow businesses to "hibernate" during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Morrison confirmed on Sunday government was looking at ways to provide more support to Australians who had lost their jobs due to the crisis, as part of a third stimulus package to be announced in coming days.
The Australian Financial Review reports the government was modelling the payments on the wage subsidies of 75 per cent to 80 per cent introduced by Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Mr Morrison would not be drawn on the specifics but said businesses should expect details in coming days.
"I would ask that before you make any further decisions that you take the opportunity to see the further measures that the government will be announcing," Mr Morrison said.
However any measures would cover business that had already shut down, Mr Morrison confirmed.
Earlier in the week Mr Morrison said Australia would not go down the same route as the UK in covering 80 per cent of the wages of affected workers.
"One of the weaknesses of the system that you're advocating for is that it has to build an entirely new payments system for that to be achieved which is never done quickly, and never done well, and that put at great risk the sort of resources we're trying to get to people," Mr Morrison said.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann also confirmed the government was working on such a scheme after initially saying it would not work in an Australian context.
"But we are going to do it in an Australian way. We're going to do it in a way that actually is going to be able to be delivered, using our existing systems and our existing architecture," Senator Cormann told the ABC's Insiders program.
That would mean providing "significantly enhanced income support through business", Senator Cormann said.
The payments to business would be linked to retaining staff, he confirmed.
"What form that will take will be announced once all of those decisions have been made," Senator Cormann said.
Unions have been pushing for government to subsidise a share of employee wages during this crisis, saying business support measures announced so far contained little incentive to keep staff on.
Tens of thousands of retail staff have been stood down across the country, with stores like Myer, Witchery, Country Road and Cotton On the latest to pull down the shutters.
Senator Cormann also said Social Services Minister Anne Ruston would ease restrictions on the partner income test to allow more people to access JobSeeker payments.
Currently people are unable to access payments if their partner earns more than $48,000.
Senator Ruston was given the power to change welfare payments by regulation on parliament's final sitting day until August.
Meanwhile, Senator Cormann has also said public servants should work from home if they could.
This is despite the Australian Public Service Commission as recently as Friday resisting calls to issue a work-from-home directive for the public service.
"There is a lot of work that needs to be done right now by the federal public service to support the government's efforts in relation to protecting people's health," Senator Cormann said.
- For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
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