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Echuca-Moama leaders welcome JobKeeper changes

By Brayden May

ECHUCA-MOAMA'S political leaders have welcomed the widening of the JobKeeper program but insist there is still more to be done.

On Friday, the Federal Government announced it was expanding the eligibility criteria in response Victoria's COVID-19 crisis.

Under the changes, businesses will only need to show that their GST turnover had fallen over one quarter, instead of multiple quarters, and workers will also qualify if they were employed on July 1, rather than March 1.

Employers must enrol for JobKeeper and identify their eligible employees by August 31.

Murray River Council's community and economic development director John Harvie said it was an important step forward to help struggling businesses.

“Council welcomes the Australian Government’s extension of Jobkeeper which will mean more local businesses and workers will now qualify for the government payments,” he said.

“The easing of the criteria will also be welcome news for our local businesses who are struggling during these unprecedented times.

“The border closures and the tightened restrictions in Victoria continue to adversely impact our businesses on the NSW side of the border.

“Our local tourism operators have reported a drop in turnover of 80 per cent compared to the same time last year, so the fact that the changes apply across all states is important.

“While this is welcome news from the Federal Government, the NSW government needs to deliver a relief package for NSW border businesses similar to the initiative announced last week by the Victorian government.”

Member for Murray Helen Dalton held a similar view to those of MRC.

“The extension of JobKeeper is good and necessary,” she said.

“However, it still leaves many in the lurch.

“Thousands of casual employees have lost their jobs in pubs, clubs, retail and agriculture.

“These people need support too, as do the many small businesses in regional areas who may never recover.”

Member for Murray Plains and The Nationals leader Peter Walsh said he was pleased the Federal Government had listened to the Victorian Nationals’ call to extend JobKeeper for Victoria.

Mr Walsh said with the stage four and three restrictions, which could drag on well beyond the proposed six weeks, it was crucial the Victorian economy did not literally come to a halt.

“With as many as 250,000 losing their jobs this week, and in the days ahead, providing the support necessary to offset the mess Victoria is now in because of the hotel quarantine fiasco was unavoidable,” he said.

“We are just glad those people across Murray Plains and across the whole state, won’t be abandoned simply because the Andrews Labor Government got it so wrong.”

Campaspe Shire Council was contacted for comment.

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