The government's historic $130 billion wage subsidy package passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday, as senators argued late into the night in fruitless attempts to amend the legislation to widen its scope.
"Today's one of the most important days in the history of this parliament," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
More than 700,000 businesses have already registered for the Job Keeper scheme, which will pay $1500 a fortnight in wage subsidies for workers in businesses that have lost revenue due to the coronavirus, covering an estimated 6 million Australian workers.
Millions more are set to miss out though, with casual workers who have been attached to the employer for less than 12 months, temporary visa workers, and employees of local councils not eligible for the payments.
Set to last for six months, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the effects of coronavirus could be felt by the economy for much longer.
The legislation passed the lower house without amendment, despite attempts by Labor to include more casual workers and workers on temporary visas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said "lines had to be drawn somewhere," and that casual workers would be eligible for the unemployment Job Seeker payment through Centrelink.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said some 40 per cent of casual workers would be eligible for the payment and perhaps half may end up with more money than they had been earning under the flat $1500 fortnightly payment.
Labor and the Greens called attention to the plight of overseas workers and international students who had also lost work in Australia and were unable to access help or return to their home countries under the limited expensive international travel available, but the government held firm that they could not access the payments.
Parliament rose until August, despite protests from the opposition and independents that sitting should continue despite the pandemic.
The detail of the legislation allows Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to make changes to the eligibility to the program without requiring legislation, similar to powers granted to Social Services Minister Anne Ruston to decide eligibility for social security payments without recalling the parliament.
A Labor amendment was agreed to by the Senate in a moment of confusion noting the power given to Mr Frydenberg and calling for the power to be used to ensure more jobs are protected and struggling, otherwise viable businesses were able to access the payment.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Mr Frydenberg had the power because there was likely to be unforseen issues that would come up in the future and that the virus was an evolving situation.
While Labor moved amendments in the House, the party voted against amendments moved by the Greens and the crossbench in the Senate to ensure an amended bill wasn't sent back to the House.
While parliament won't sit, the Senate agreed to a select committee to examine the government's economic and health responses to the coronavirus crisis, which is set to be chaired by the ACT Senator Katy Gallagher.
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