Scott Morrison, who won the election channeling daggy dad, has become the nation's benevolent patriarch, as he distributes lessons and largesse in a set of transformative economic policies.
His response to the virus was driven partly by pragmatism after a message was delivered direct from John Howard that at times such as these there are no ideological constraints. Thus we suddenly have a doubled unemployment benefit and something that was almost akin to a universal wage.
But it has been driven secondly by Morrison's (yes, at heart ideological) belief in business as the bedrock of the economy and society, and his appeal to good nature.
On JobKeeper, he has asked businesses to join in this beneficence. But for business it seems, the costs are too great.
Morrison's JobKeeper scheme, like the rest of his stimulus, was sold in the frame of avoiding "the mistakes of previous stimulus measures". He didn't want to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Rudd and did not want a big infrastructure build that would take time and bureaucracy to roll out. He wanted business, not the bureaucracy, to be at the heart of it. So all of his major measures except the doubled unemployment benefit are delivered through business. And when it finally came to JobKeeper on March 30, three weeks after the first stimulus package on March 12, Morrison was locked into the ground rules he had set himself.
"We've been about finding existing delivery mechanisms," he said. "When you design new systems, then you can find yourselves in all sorts of difficulties."
Delivering JobKeeper through existing mechanisms meant delivering it through the tax system. So instead of a simple universal wage - derided in right-wing circles as a socialist pipe-dream - Morrison decided to hand out his flat $1500-a-fortnight wage subsidy through the Tax Office. The government pays the wage subsidy but businesses are responsible for delivering it. If Morrison thought this would help him avoid "all sorts of difficulties", he was wrong.
Morrison has tried to appeal to a kind of corporate morality and generosity that goes beyond the fundamentally transactional nature of the relationships between staff and business, even when those relationships are close and long-lasting.
"We need your patriotism," Morrison told businesses on March 10. "How you support your customers, your suppliers, your employees during the next six months and potentially beyond, will say more about your company, your corporate values and the integrity of your brand, than anything else you've likely done."
He's asking for a shift from bosses, who must now go out of their way and take some not insignificant risks to sign their staff up to a government program.
But businesses will ask themselves, what's in the JobKeeper program for me? For those still open and coping, there is an easy answer - the government will pay $750 a week of their wage bill for each of their staff for six months. But for those who have put staff off or who have been forced to close, what's the incentive?
They were required to pay each worker $3000 by this Thursday covering the first four weeks of the scheme but have now been given until May 8 to make the payment. Next week, they will get the money back from the tax department.
In some cases, they have to pay more money than their previous wage bill - if, for example, they had a casual on two days a week earning $300 before the coronavirus downturn, the business must now pay that causal $750 a week, whether or not they have any work. Easier by far to tell their staff to apply for welfare.
Melbourne bar and cafe owner Liam Matthews describes it as "a horrific mess".
"It is beyond flawed. I've never felt so trapped by a piece of legislation before," he says. "The scheme is one of the worst experiences of my business career."
He had 43 staff before the coronavirus closures, of which between 25 and 28 were eligible for JobKeeper - the others on migrant visas or casuals of less than 12 months. He has kept just eight staff plus the three owners, on the basis that he had $30,000 so that's how many he could afford to pay.
There is a flaw, though, in his plan. The rule, reinforced by the government on Friday, is "one in all in". This stops businesses from picking and choosing between employees - they must offer the payment to all their staff if they want to receive it for any.
Which leaves Matthews stuck. He's on the phone to the bank but can't see any bank approving a $70,000 loan in time for him to pay all his staff by Thursday even if a bank was prepared to lend to him at all, given the $350 he put through the till on a recent 12-hour shift. If the "one-in all-in" rule prevents him getting the money back that he has paid the rump of staff he kept on during April, he says he will have to close up completely next week, landing more people in the dole queue.
For Morrison, the payment is about economic stimulus, delivered in a way he can stomach and a way that doesn't require a new administrative structure. For the government and the economy, it doesn't matter to the government whether there is work for the employee or not - the point is to get money into people's hands so they can spend, pay their rent, and avoid a cascading economic collapse. It also keeps people out of the dole queues that so shocked the Coalition leaders the morning after so many businesses were ordered to choose their doors.
But for businesses, the imperatives are different. Morrison has asked businesses to be his lieutenants in this scheme to save the economy. But only some will fall into lockstep without an obvious reason to do so. They're not seeing the payment through the same lens as Morrison. For bosses like Matthews, the complexity and cost is prohibitive. Others don't accept they they should have to hand over money to someone who is no longer even working for them, even if the government will pay them back. Some don't think the casual previously on one shift a week deserves a sudden $750 a week bonanza for nothing.
The decision to apply for JobKeeper is entirely in the hands of the business and staff are at the mercy of their boss. For some workers, this is not simply the difference between $1500 (or $1300 after tax) on JobKeeper, and $1100 on the dole. For people aged under 22 and for New Zealanders not eligible for the dole, JobKeeper is the only payment they can get. It's a survival payment but one that relies on the boss to make.
But as if to disabuse workers of any sense that this was about them, Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell told the Sydney Morning Herald his week, "Staff have to understand that JobKeeper is not theirs. It is not a payment to an employee, it is a payment to an employer to keep a business going during a tough time."
So much for Morrison's call for selfless patriotism.
Morrison is already backing off the universality of his JobKeeper scheme. When announced, it was expected to cover six million workers. Now, with the first payments to be made next week, the government isn't saying how many workers have been signed up, nor how much it expects to pay.
"JobKeeper was never intended to be a catch-all for every Australian worker, or a worker who had their hours significantly reduced or, indeed, was stood down," Morrison said in what sounded close to an admission of defeat last week.
"It was intended to be there as an important element of the income support that we put in place, and the lifeline to businesses and to keep people connected to businesses.
"But where that can't be in place ... then JobSeeker is available."
Which means for the lucky and the eligible, it is back to the Centrelink queue.