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SA Government considering $1500 payment to casual workers who quarantine

The Advertiser 2020-08-20 07:52:00

Casual workers without other income support could have access to hardship payments from the South Australian Government if they are forced to self-quarantine or catch COVID-19.

Under the possible state government-funded scheme, $1500 would be given to casual employees who don’t receive JobKeeper payments.

Further details on the eligibility criteria will be announced once a decision is made.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said he was looking at similar schemes from Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.

He said a decision could be made early next week.

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“Queensland, Victoria and ACT have one-off payments. I’m assuming if two or three months later you tested positive again or were required to self-isolate, I’m assuming they’ll get the payment again, but they’re the sorts of technical questions our Treasury office has been having with interstate colleagues,” Mr Lucas said on ABC Radio Adelaide.

“Whilst we don’t always slavishly follow other schemes, if there is some degree of consistency between the jurisdictions it helps us in terms of what might be useful and what might not be.

“Our understanding is (the scheme) would continue until those circumstances don’t apply, but that’s the sort of detail we are in discussions with.”

The Queensland and the ACT governments self-fund their schemes, but Victoria received funding from the Federal Government.

Mr Lucas said the State Government was in discussion with the commonwealth to see if a federally funded scheme was possible for SA.

“We have been in discussions but their position has been, in Victoria’s case, the state was declared a state of disaster, and the reality is the circumstances in Victoria are much more significant,” he said.

“We can accept in the end they don’t have buckets of money either. They are funding JobKeeper and JobSeeker, so we’re not going to be critical of our federal colleagues.”

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told The Advertiser she supported a pandemic leave payment.

“It’s something that we’ve really seriously considered, and we’ve provided advice from the health perspective, but that’s really over to our government to make those decisions,” she said.

The scheme has also been backed by the state Opposition.

Treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan said the payments would assist with compliance when self-quarantining.

“Nobody should be left financially disadvantaged by doing the right thing,” he said.

“With hundreds of millions of promised stimulus funds gathering dust in Treasury, now is the time to support affected South Australians.”

Originally published as Casual workers’ quarantine pay plan