Extension welcome

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Aerial view of the Busselton Jetty
Camera IconAerial view of the Busselton Jetty Credit: Tourism Western Australia

The six-month JobKeeper extension was welcomed by businesses in the South West last week despite fears of an eligibility crackdown.

Business owners on JobKeeper face a more stringent test to prove they have lost turnover across two quarters.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Steve Harrison said many businesses in the tourism sector were still on the road to recovery and would benefit greatly from the extension’s support.

“Some businesses have been doing well, they’re managing with intrastate visitation and income and are back to how they were pre-COVID,” he said.

“Other businesses are still struggling to get their business models adapted and to fit in with the intrastate-only visitation.”

It was estimated the number of people eligible for JobKeeper by 2021 would be one million — down from three and half million workers currently covered by the program.

Busselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve said the jetty lost more than $1m in income as a result of the COVID-19 impact on tourism.

“The extension of JobKeeper until March 2021, even at the reduced rate, means we can open our doors even if visitor numbers continue to drop, due to less disposable income in the economy,” she said.

Equinox director Peter Gordon said he did not think his business would be eligible for the extension.

“I’m concerned the extension doesn’t take into account the previous periods. Yes we qualify for JobKeeper in this current six months and we needed it, but we didn’t lose just 30 per cent last period, we lost 100 per cent for the two and a half months we were closed,” Mr Gordon said.

“The extension isn’t going to take that into account, the damage has been done in this past period, so I think maybe it should be looked at over a 12-month period as opposed to the quarters.”

Following in JobKeeper’s footsteps, JobSeeker supplements were reduced from $550 to $250 per fortnight.

The Western Australian Council of Social Service slammed the JobSeeker reduction as misguided and cruel.

WACSS chief executive Louise Giolitto said the decision would force millions of Australians into poverty.

“For no good reason the Government have significantly lowered support measures to people who are out of a job,” she said.

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