Melburnians will have to prove they have less than $10,000 in liquid assets and have “insufficient” leave entitlements to receive a new $500 Covid-lockdown emergency payment.
Victoria was plunged into lockdown over a week ago to crush an escalating Covid outbreak, a measure that was extended earlier this week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday confirmed people in hot spots would be eligible for weekly emergency payments to help them through the crisis.
People living in hot spots aged over 17 who ordinarily worked 20 hours a week will receive $500 a week, while those who worked less 20 hours would receive $325.
“They will be able to do this from Tuesday in making an application online with Services Australia, and they will also be a number they can contact. There will be further information provided about that,” Mr Morrison said.
To be eligible, applicants must declare would have worked were it not from the lockdown, and have lost income as result.
They must report less than $10,000 in liquid assets, and have “insufficient” leave entitlements, including special pandemic and sick leave.
They will not be required to use annual leave.
Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said Victorians “can rest assured that the money will be on their account”.
He said Services Australia was ensuring those eligible would be able to file their applications to Centrelink.
Centrelink was “ready to go” and making sure it had sufficient resources to process applications.
Mr Morrison said “Victorians just want to know that they are getting help next week”.
“That is what matters and they will be able to do this from Tuesday,” Mr Morrison said.
“They want to know they will get that support and if you meet the criteria you will get that support next week.”
Mr Morrison said the federal government support was “commensurate with the risks that are faced to avoid any unnecessary hardship on Australians”.
The Commonwealth will also establish a national framework for support in areas defined as a hot spot, where lockdowns last longer than seven days.
“The first seven days are matters entirely for state and territory governments, as they wish to provide support,” he said.
“If a lockdown, as a result of a state public health order continues (beyond seven days) … then we will be providing support for payments for those affected and those affected areas.”
The payments will be assessed on a week-by-week basis.
“We are talking about somebody getting through the next week, who would normally (would) be in an economic situation where every dollar counts.”
But the prime minister has denied the move was an admission the Commonwealth was partly responsible for the situation in Victoria.
“It’s an admission that the Commonwealth responds to disasters. That is what it is an admission of,” he said.
Mr Morrison spoke to Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino on Wednesday, where he suggested funding for the new payment should be evenly split.
Another option floated by the prime minister was the state covering all business support, and the federal government funding all household support.
“Either way, we will work it out at national cabinet tomorrow. We will have a good discussion about it,” he said.
“What matters is that businesses get the support they need, and households get the support they need.
“The politicians don’t need to have a discussion in public about how that is going to get done.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the lockdown had hit Victorians “very hard” but insisted they would “get to the other side” of the crisis.
“The payment the prime minister has announced is so important. It is going to support Victorians at a time that they need that support,” he said.
Mr Frydenberg said the federal government had already provided three times the amount of support provided at a state level.
Mr Morrison was pressed on the nation’s sluggish vaccine rollout after Mr Merlino criticised progress as “woefully, painfully slow”.
The prime minister said there had been a “significant scaling up” of the rollout’s pace.
“We are working closely with the Victorian government and I think that is what people want to see,” he said.