Canberrans stuck under stay-at-home orders because of the Sydney outbreak are ineligible for a federal Covid support payment, an issue ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says is unfair and will be "prosecuted with the Commonwealth".
The payment, of up to $500 a week, is available for people in declared Commonwealth COVID-19 hotspots who lose work as a result of public health directions.
Mr Barr said it shouldn't matter where you are following the health directions if you are subject to them because of visiting a declared hotspot.
Mr Barr will raise the matter during national cabinet on Monday afternoon.
"The initial feedback from the Commonwealth was that they wouldn't be willing to consider ACT residents eligible. We will prosecute that with the Commonwealth," he said.
"I don't think that's a fair decision. The outbreak and hotspot has been declared in Sydney, where you are forced to stay-at-home and undertake your isolation shouldn't be a factor, it should be that you were in an area that has been declared a hotspot."
Under the current eligibility criteria for the payment ACT residents under stay-at-home requirements in Canberra, as a result of the Sydney outbreak, are not able to receive it.
Mr Barr said he would raise the "quirk" in the system as a priority during Monday's national cabinet meeting.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the Morrison government was to blame for the latest outbreak and therefore had a "responsibility" to support people who had lost income.
Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the government had no plans to extend the eligibility criteria.
Do you know more? email Kathryn.Lewis@canberratimes.com.au.
ACT Council of Social Service chief executive Emma Campbell agreed the payment should be available to anyone losing work because they had been to a hotspot.
"This payment is aimed at people who have lost work, they are losing money, they are clearly vulnerable," Dr Campbell said.
While many higher income workers are able to work from home, Dr Campbell was concerned those on lower incomes and in public facing roles were losing out.
Dr Campbell joined her national counterpart in calling for the payment to be increased and made more widely available.
The support payment is currently not available to anyone who receives other income support payments, including JobSeeker.
According to the Australian Council of Social Service, one in three women and one in five men receiving JobSeeker are typically also in paid work.
ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the payment was insufficient.
"Payments should apply for the entire duration of lockdowns, not just after the first week. In the event the duration of a lockdown is not known from the outset, people should be back paid for the first week of the lockdown," Dr Goldie said.
"We welcome that the Covid Disaster Payment applies to people on temporary working visas, however, most international students on these visas are only allowed to work 20 hours per week so will only be eligible for the lower payment, which is below the poverty line and only slightly higher than the current JobSeeker rate."
The temporary COVID-19 disaster payment is a "national framework" of support for locations defined by the chief medial officer as Commonwealth hotspots, and where there are lockdowns imposed by state public health orders that extend for more than seven days.
People who lose more than 20 hours work in a week as a result of public health directions are eligible for the $500 payment.
People who would lose fewer hours of work in a week would receive $325.
Monday marked the first day of mandatory mask-wearing for many indoor settings in the ACT.
Mr Barr said the measure was "not a risk eliminater, but it's a risk reducer".
"Mask wearing applies across the border in Queanbeyan so there's not something magic in the air between the ACT and NSW," he said.
"I'd much rather be doing this ahead of the virus finding its way into the ACT then having to do it in a rushed way."
When asked if Sydney should have been locked down earlier, Mr Barr said "everyone's great in hindsight ... my concern and my regret is all of these things have become so politicised."
He said the NSW government had "made the right decision now".
"With the greater Sydney region being in lockdown, it gives a greater degree of comfort that there won't be a movement beyond the point at which the NSW government finally pulled the trigger," he said.
The ACT recorded no new coronavirus cases on Monday.
There are 13 close contacts who have visited NSW exposure locations in Canberra and 184 casual contacts who visited NSW exposure sites.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: