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Prime Minister Scott Morrison's interview with David Koch, Sunrise


DAVID KOCH: We're now joined by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Prime Minister, appreciate your time.

 

PRIME MINISTER: G'day David. 

 

KOCH: No sign of the New South Wales lockdown going to end any time soon. Will this package be enough to save businesses and keep people's jobs? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this package will continue for as long as the lockdown continues. And you're right, it is a significant package. This support is designed to do two things. Help people who have lost those hours. As you said, those payments will go up to $600 a week from Friday for those first four local government areas that went into the lockdown and from Monday for the rest of the state. But I do stress that even right now, David, you can access those payments of $500 a week and $375 a week right now by calling 180 22 66. Now, when you reapply on Friday and Monday, that payment will not only come to you at $600 and $375, it will be a recurring payment. So you won't have to go back and apply each week. You will get it each week until the lockdown finishes. And if your circumstances change, then obviously we would want you to inform us of that. 

 

KOCH: OK, so it's ongoing. For a small business, who has lost more than 30 per cent of their turnover and you're comparing it to the same two week period last year, can they cut their staff back rather than retrench them or get rid of them, cut them back more than 20 hours a week so they qualify for the $600 and the business still gets the $10,000 relief. 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Correct. Obviously, that has to be done consistent with the industrial relations law, but if you are a permanent employee, if you're a part time and full time, part time, if you're a casual, permanent casual arrangement, you can access those payments. So if you're working in one of those businesses and you come to an agreement with your employer in saying, look, I've got to cut you back to 20 hours a week or lose a day or something like that, then you can ring that 180 22 66 number. You can do that even right now for the current payments and from next week for those higher payments. Next week, it's all of New South Wales. And that's as through the support of the New South Wales Government. That's what the arrangement we came to, to extend it right across the state. 

 

KOCH: And you get payroll tax relief and all that sort of stuff from the state thrown into it too, which is really important. Is that the reason why this payment to New South Wales small businesses is better than what was offered to Victorian small businesses? Because the New South Wales Government has come more to the party with its own relief?

 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, no, I mean, there are two different situations. The Victorian lockdown went for two weeks. What has happened in New South Wales is exactly what happened in Victoria, it is the same support provided by the Commonwealth to New South Wales and Victoria during that two week period. We're now going into a longer lockdown. When Victoria needed the rest of the country last year, when they were in that very long lockdown on the second wave, the Commonwealth was putting in three quarters of a billion dollars into Victoria every week, $13.4 billion of direct support to employers and employees in Victoria over the many months. In Victoria, there was more JobKeeper provided to Victoria than any other state. When Victoria needed Australia, they got the support.

 

KOCH: Because you're accusing of not being fair?

 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's nonsense. It's not true. The numbers just don't bear it out. When Victoria needed Australia, they were getting three quarters of a billion dollars of support from the Commonwealth every week. This package, together with the New South Wales Government, is delivering half a billion a week. And the Commonwealth component of that is quarter of a billion. And then on top of that, we're paying also that household, that individual support of the $600 and the $375. There's already been 130,000 grants of those payments already made, David. But we expect that to increase in the days ahead. And that's, you go to Services Australia for the individual support. You got to Services New South Wales for that payment of between $1,500 a week and $10,000 a week, which maxes out at 40 per cent of your payroll. 

 

KOCH: OK, every little bit is helpful to small businesses just trying to get through this. 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, it's a cash flow boost. 

 

KOCH: Yeah. Yesterday. you had a call with community leaders in Sydney. What did you discuss with them? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Just thanking them, first of all, for the leadership they're showing in their community to support the New South Wales Government to get those messages out. Whether it's been through church leaders or community leaders, local doctors setting up practise as the the vaccine, additional rollouts that are occurring there. Getting the message out there, those phone trees working down in south western Sydney, encouraging people not to have those household gatherings. And we've seen a real change over these last four or five days in New South Wales. The Premier spoke to the same group last week, and I've spoken to them this week. And we're just continuing both of us, to encourage them and encouraging everyone, not just there, but right across greater Sydney and indeed the state as they push through this.

 

KOCH: Did Gladys Berejiklian get it wrong, going with a soft lockdown rather than a hard one?

 

PRIME MINISTER: New South Wales has responded as they always have to the best information they have. And New South Wales, went into lockdown on I think, I think on day 11, David. In the second wave in Victoria, we didn't go into lockdown into over day 40. This strain is far more virulent. This is why they've gone in early. And so they've gone far earlier than we saw in those other cases last year. And, you know, you learn from that experience and there's been a lot of learning from the second wave in Victoria. I mean, there are some pretty big failings that occurred there, as we know. But the support came. The other thing I note in New South Wales is even though they're going through what they're doing now, they are still taking half of the international arrivals into Australia. They are still carrying that load for Australia. And I think that's, that's a great thing for them to do. 

 

KOCH: Prime Minister, I know you've got other commitments. Appreciate your time. Thank you.


PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot, David. We'll get through this.

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