Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Attorney-General Christian Porter.

‘Six million jobs’ at stake over JobKeeper scheme

Attorney-General Christian Porter says the JobKeeper wage subsidy will be passed on Wednesday "no matter how late we have to sit".

"The change will be happening next Wednesday, six million Australian jobs depend on it," Mr Porter said.

Mr Porter said he was "listening" to calls for the package to be expanded to include more casual workers, such as those flagged by union chief Sally McManus this morning.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary said she wanted to see the wage subsidy expanded so that casuals who had worked for less than 12 months, and anybody who "reasonably expected" to be working will be covered.

"We're worried that if you change the rights of workers unfortunately some employers might abuse that," Ms McManus told ABC's Insiders.



Aussie kids need not fear the coronavirus restrictions have shut down all the holiday fun after the country's top medical advisor confirmed the Easter bunny's work was an "essential service".

Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said the upcoming Easter holidays would be "very different" for every family this year, but one special job would continue.

"I've been asked about the Easter bunny and I'm told because he's a solo operator and an essential service, Easter bunny, he or she, will be allowed to continue to operate," Prof Murphy said.

"But the rest of us will have to do things differently."

Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy at the Department of Health in Canberra. Picture: Sean Davey
Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy at the Department of Health in Canberra. Picture: Sean Davey


Only essential workers who aren't able to do their job from home are allowed to continue to travel to and from the workplace.

The National Cabinet has also agreed to allow people formally participating in religious services for Easter to travel to places of worship to do that work.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that while churches remained closed to the public, singers and other service roles would be considered "essential" for the purposes of special ceremonies being broadcast or live streamed online for Easter this year.

Prof Murphy said while Australia had a lower COVID19 death rate compared to many other countries, the measures to protect the population must continue.

"Easter is a time when people normally travel, get together and have social gatherings and we're asking you not to do that," he said.

"We're asking you to stay with your family, in your place of residence, not travel where you might be unwittingly spread the virus, not have parties where you might unwittingly be sharing the virus with people who don't have it.

"Particularly not with those older and vulnerable Australians."


Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly. Picture: Gary Ramage
Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly. Picture: Gary Ramage


Meanwhile, Australians have been warned to be "hypervigilant" over the coming weeks to help fight back against the coronavirus.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said on Saturday there was a concern around people believing "we have got through this" as it appears the nation is starting to "flatten the curve".

"What I really would caution against is thinking we have got through this completely because we definitely have not," he said.

"We really have to be hypervigilant now.

"At the moment we are tracking quite well, that flattening of the curve we have talked about for some time now appears to be happening.

"So much of the decrease in the daily cases we have seen in the last week is really to do with what we did at the border two or three weeks ago in relation to decreasing people coming into Australia."

Prof Kelly also said those living in residential colleges and boarding houses should look at their living situations.

Communal living was a "challenge" and he called on those involved to increase basic hygiene.

The ACT has recorded its second coronavirus death, bringing the national toll to 30.

The deceased, a male in his 80s, had pre-existing health issues and died at the Canberra hospital. he was later identified to be Labor MP Ged Kearney's father-in-law Mike.

"We actually teased him because he had bought 5kgs of rice and 10 tins of chic (sic) peas and 10 cans of tomatoes - for just him and his lovely wife Wendy. Panic buying we said! But of course it was the right thing to do," Ms Kearney wrote in a Facebook post.

"He became ill quite suddenly, was admitted to hospital and 7 days later he died."

ACT Chief Health Officer, Kerryn Coleman said the very sad reality of this disease is that the elderly and the vulnerable are at a greatly increased risk of complications.

Australia has more than 5,500 infections, while the global number of infections approaching 1.1 million.