Speculation about changes to the JobKeeper program are "premature", Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said, without committing to keeping the program in place for the full six months for which it was originally legislated.
The JobKeeper wage subsidy program has only just started to appear in the bank accounts of businesses across Australia, but there have been reports the government could move to tighten the criteria for the program, with a review due in June.
Mr Morrison said questions by reporters on Monday were "premature" but that the government was watching the economy and the program carefully.
"We've put the commitment in to support Australians over that period of time," Mr Morrison said.
"And as we need to adjust based on advice and the strength of the economy and how many people we're getting back into jobs. Well, these are the things we'll be watching carefully."
The program, where businesses are paid a $1500 a fortnight wage subsidy for every employee if they lose 30 per cent or more of revenue, has been criticised for excluding some casual workers and arts workers, but allowing others to earn more than they would have previously.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has already announced some changes to the program, including removing full-time students under the age of 18 from being able to receive the payment.
Mr Morrison said on Monday the government wanted to ensure the program was properly targeted, opening the door to narrowing its scope.
"We've been doing all of these things and all of our programs will continue to be delivered in accordance with those principles," he said.
States have been announcing gradual easing of restrictions but some hospitality and retail businesses have said it won't be possible to turn a profit with strict limits on the number of people in their venues.
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, said the JobKeeper program was extraordinary for something that had been put together in six weeks, but small business owners needed certainty.
"It doesn't help," he said of the reports of early changes.
"That's where we need to hear fairly quickly that it will continue. I don't know how it could not continue. People do need certainty.
Under current legislation the JobKeeper program, like the increase to the JobSeeker unemployment payment, is due to wind up in September.
But Deloitte Access Economics on Monday said the government needed to consider a staged end to the program, in order to avoid only delaying an uptick in unemployment.
According to Deloitte it will take until 2024 for unemployment to recover to pre-COVID levels, but the JobKeeper program shouldn't be extended indefinitely to avoid creating "zombie firms" that only exist due to government subsidies.
Unlike the one-size-fits-all approach that was needed to roll out JobKeeper quickly, Deloitte says detail and complexity will be important, with different businesses and occupations to be going back to work at different speeds.
Under the plan they advocate for a smaller but longer program, which could increase costs by $20 billion.
Mr Strong said it was important businesses weren't left reliant on government assistance long-term, and said industry assistance packages could be one option explored to stimulate the economy while allowing businesses to stand on their own.