Chief Minister Andrew Barr says he is "fairly certain" the federal government's JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme will exist beyond September, but in a stripped-back form which only supports sectors still affected by coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Barr made the comments on Wednesday afternoon, as he revealed plans to use what would have been ACT budget week to deliver a major speech outlining policy changes to support the ACT's economic recovery in the coming years.
Mr Barr said territory and federal governments would need to continue financially propping up businesses as they emerged from the shutdown.
The Commonwealth's $130 billion JobKeeper scheme has been the most significant form of economic support offered to Australian businesses through the pandemic, providing $750 per week payments to millions of workers.
The program has been legislated to run until the end of September. A review into the program is due next month, opening the door to possible changes.
There has been reports that Prime Minister Scott Morrison might move to end the scheme early, although he last week cautioned that such speculation was "premature".
Mr Barr, who sits on Mr Morrison's national cabinet of premiers and chief ministers, was not only confident the program would run until September, but "fairly certain" that a taxpayer-funded wage subsidy scheme would need to continue beyond that date.
But Mr Barr believed the scheme would be "reshaped", so that the payment was only provided to workers in sectors which continued to be affected by coronavirus restrictions.
One example was the events industry, which has little prospect of operating at full capacity until large mass gatherings are permitted.
He said the amount paid to JobKeeper recipients might also be reduced.
"I'm fairly certain that JobKeeper will be reshaped and will need to continue," he said.
"It may not be as broad as it is now, and it may not be at the level that it is now. I think the expectation is that many industry sectors will have recovered to the point where they didn't need a wage subsidy at the end of September," Mr Barr said.
"The question will be is there still industries at that point that are subject to public health directions?"
Mr Barr said he had raised the topic a number of times at national cabinet and at meetings of Australian treasurers.
As the wage subsidy was a Commonwealth scheme, he acknowledged that it was Mr Morrison's call on whether it should continue.
Mr Barr said he would deliver two major economic statements in the coming months, which would set the stage for the ACT's economic recovery.
He said the first, to be delivered in June, would outline "new policy settings" to help support the rebuild. The second statement in August would include an update on the ACT's budget position. Those financial statements would have otherwise been presented in the territory's 2021-20 budget, which has been delayed until after October because of the pandemic.
Mr Barr said the policy changes due to be outlined in the June statement would include a mix of new measures and extensions of those rushed through to support Canberrans at the height of the crisis. He hinted that payroll tax reform was on the agenda, although details were scant.
"This is about certainty and a pathway forward," he said.
"The question that has been asked - and this is asked of all governments - is what happens after September?
"What I'm looking at is giving certainty years into the future about what the regulatory environment will be, what the fees and charges will be ... for those impacted industry sectors."