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Frydenberg Faces JobKeeper Extension Plea: Rejects 'Hospo-Keeper' Request

The Morrison government is now facing desperate pleas from the hospitality, aviation and travel agent sectors for an extension of JobKeeper beyond March 31.

The Morrison government is now facing desperate pleas from the hospitality, aviation and travel agent sectors for an extension of JobKeeper beyond March 31.

2021 has so far only brought more pain and anxiety to an already paralysed local travel industry.

Faced with indefinite international border restrictions and an unstable domestic market, travel industry leaders are now appealing for more federal government support and the extension of JobKeeper beyond March.

However, despite the pleadings to date, Josh Frydenberg has already rejected a proposal to extend JobKeeper payments for the hard-hit hospitality industry.

Restaurant and Catering chief Wes Lambert wants taxpayer-funded wage assistance extended for six months beyond March for businesses hit by coronavirus-induced lockdowns and border restrictions.

But the treasurer ruled out the idea in a written response published by The Australian on Friday.

“We recognise the challenges faced by the accommodation and food services industry,” Mr Frydenberg wrote.

“However, given the unprecedented levels of support announced by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, I consider that existing policy settings will continue to support a strong economic recovery and we are not contemplating a ‘Hospo-Keeper’ package at this time.”

Fake News?

The aviation sector is also calling for an extension of the scheme after Health Department boss Brendan Murphy predicted international borders would stay shut until 2022 earlier in the week.

Virgin Australia and aviation companies have joined unions in writing to the prime minister asking for “AviationKeeper”.

The plan would extend JobKeeper to all aviation workers and be phased out as domestic and international borders are open with flying returning to normal.

In a statement from Virgin Australia, CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said: “The implementation of inconsistent rules and restrictions for travellers is having a significant impact on the economy, our people, their livelihoods, and the tens of thousands who’ve been disrupted over the summer,

“The expectation that rules must be understood instantaneously by travellers and that businesses like ours must manage our operation around them is also proving extremely challenging,” She said.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond says the sector cannot survive on domestic travel alone, particularly if state borders keep closing.

“There is no way that domestic tourism can fill the gap that will be left by inbound international travel,” she told the ABC on Tuesday.

“Essentially your average Chinese visitor to Australia probably spends $8500 while they’re here. Your average Aussie who heads off for a holiday is probably spending about $1500.

“Make no mistake, while international borders remain closed, we have no hope of recovery.”

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Ms Osmond is calling for nationally consistent protocols around state border restrictions after snap shutdowns caused chaos over Christmas.

Meanwhile, Transport Workers’ Union assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh said thousands of families were out of work and thousands more would face a year of uncertainty.

“It makes no sense to remove the wage subsidy lifeline that has kept aviation businesses going and assisted many workers to keep their jobs and pay their bills while planes are grounded,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned businesses to prepare for the wage subsidy scheme to end on March 31.

JobSeeker unemployment benefits are scheduled to be slashed on that date with Mr Morrison arguing there was no such thing as “free money”.

“Australian taxpayers can’t underwrite the Australian economy forever,” he told 4BC radio.

“JobKeeper, JobSeeker, all those big programs that we introduced back in the early part of last year, they did an incredibly important job.

“But we were pretty clear upfront that was not something that could be sustained forever.”

Get ready Mr Morrison, the lobbying to change your decision on JobKeeper has only just begun.